Etna Backwards is Ante. (And why I love a Cheese Souffle.)

Wine and Cheese.  This is essentially what we’re talking about here.  A lip-smacking-good wine from Etna, and a cheese souffle.  If you feel me, and I know you do,  please continue reading.

I think home cooks have an unnatural fear of the souffle.  I mean, it’s pretty much a separated, whipped, baked scrambled egg.  (Side note: this is why I also love Mark Bittman and his funny little videos.  Watch him slap together an easy zucchini souffle HERE. I loosely interpreted his recipe for the classic Cheese Souffle the other night too…)

A little butter and flour, stirred together into a roux, then enriched with milk- it’s the glue that holds the melty cheese together.  I love Gruyere, so this was a natural choice, and I added some in some Pecorino Romano for good measure- you can never have too much Italian cheese.

Souffle is kind of indulgent, (creamy, cheesy, custardy), so I did a quick sautee of broccoli and tomatoes to keep things balanced.  This, plus a hunk of crusty baguette, and all you’re missing is the right glass of vino!

I thought a nice, bright, razor-edged white would sing with that rich, unctuous souffle, so I picked an Etna Bianco from I Custodi delle Vigne dell’Etna.  “I Custodi” are the keepers, the guardians of Mt. Etna’s vineyards: in this case, Mario and Manuela Paoluzi, a young couple who decided to buy a few hectares of vineyards in the best vine-growing area on the north side of the volcano.  They named their Bianco “Ante”, a funny, backward-type of anagram for “Etna”.  I like people who don’t take themselves too seriously- especially when they make a Serious Wine.

This Etna Bianco is intriguing and complex with haunting citrus notes and salty, seaweed aromas clinging to the glass.  There is a gorgeous core of acidity that erupts from the fruit in this wine, laced with a fine, grippy, ashy bitterness.  It’s a potent wine, and mouth-wateringly delicious.  Etna Bianco is always a base of Carricante grapes, this version is also blended with Minella and Grecanico.  It’s clear there is very little intervention here- neutral oak, stainless steel, and a whole lot of volcanic terroir just barreling though.

Is there anything better than the perfect glass of wine and a cheese souffle?