Quince Restaurant in San Francisco has a special place in my heart. Not only is the food amazing (thank you, Chef Michael Tusk- you are a culinary genius), but the wine list is curated by one of my own personal wine heroes- David Lynch. Back in 2004 when I was just starting out in the world of Italian wine world, David Lynch and Joe Bastianich’s book Vino Italianowas my first real window into the complexity and geographical specificity of Italy’s wines. Even after living in Italy, where I experienced this campanalismo, or regionality, first hand, I didn’t truly understand what it meant in reference to wine.
Authenticity is what makes Italy so special. There is not a lot of Nebbiolo in Campania, just as you will find scarce Aglianico grown in Toscana. Lynch and Bastianich’s book was the first to really hit home with me- you can study Italian wine for decades and never know everything about it. There are more wine grape varietals in Italy than we will discover in a lifetime. Also, the human history attached to Italian wine is as important as any other cultural treasure or artifact. The people committed to growing indigenous varietals and making authentic Italian wines are curators of Italy’s past- just like any museum curator would be. This was the book that helped me see all this, and which subsequently cemented my obsession with i vini Italiani.
Needless to say I am a little starstruck around David Lynch. Fortunately, he is extremely down to earth, funny, and very hospitable. I sat at the bar with my favorite Ca’ del Bosco Ambassador, Vittorio Marzotto, and David came over to chat. Did I mention he speaks perfect Italian? Love this guy!
The food was incredible- have you ever seen such succulent, toothsome Beef Tartare?
Another one of may favorites was the linguine with sea urchin. Briny, savory-sweet all wrapped around the most perfectly textured pasta with just the right amount of “chew”. Of the evning’s dishes, this was the best match for the Ca’ del Bosco Cuvee Prestige. The bubbles really punctuated the richness of the sauce, and there is enough fruit in this wine to stand up to the meatiness of the pasta itself.
The brightest spot in the evening however, was discovering GD Vajra’s Barolo Chinato on the wine list. Barolo Chinato is a Barolo that has been fortified with sugar, spices, herbs and most prominently, quinine (which is where it gets its name). Vajra’s version is absolutely stunning, with a pure, winey backbone, the fruit and acidity you would expect of a wine made from Nebbiolo grapes, and the intoxicating aromas of all those herbs and spices. Imported by Rinasciamento Wine Company in California, this wine is something special- if you see it, try it!
Experiencing Quince’s wine list is truly a delight for those who venture outside of the norm, and who enjoy a little world-travelling with their bar bites. There is an authentic expression of place in each of the wines David Lynch selects for his list- this is as close as you’ll get to a virtual trip around the world, and into the heart of Italy.