On a recent trip to Roma I was lucky enough to have my friend and resident natural wine expert Hande Leimer of Vino Roma point out some of the highlights in this wonderful city. She introduced me to what is now one of my favorite wine shops in the world: Le Vignerons. Owned and operated by the charismatic Antonio Marino, Les Vignerons is a secret clubhouse for wine geeks. I feel like I should have needed a password to enter. Tucked down below street level on a busy sidewalk, you might walk right by without noticing the treasure-trove of great wine waiting patiently below the surface.
Antonio clearly has a passion for Natural Wine. More importantly, he has a passion for Great Wines. The highly targeted and focused selection of his shop bears witness to the intersection of these two ideals. Great Natural Wine. This man is a treasure- I would go back to Rome just to spend more time with him, just to learn what he knows about wine.
We stocked up on a case of wines to bring with us to the country, as we were leaving Rome to travel to Umbria for the holidays with family friends. In retrospect I should have brought more wine, as the combination of Antonio’s Natural Wine selections and Carla Pesce’s cooking was something truly extraordinary.
A few days later, after a long day of manual labor (for the men), and kitchen duty (for our hostess and Matriarch), we settled in for the perfect lasagne and a bottle of Barraco Rosammare. 100% Nero d’Avola made in a deep rosé style from the fine people at Nino Barraco’s winery in Marsala. 200 meters from the sea and tastes every bit like that wildly untamed, west-facing vista and that salty, briny sea air. Unfiltered and unfined so as to retain that beautiful fine tannin and texture. Roses and bright cranberry exploding out of the glass and a tart cherry-acidity to perfectly balance Carla’s tomato sauce. An ode to Nero d’Avola. An ode to Carla’s cooking.
I love the play on textures here. The cold rosé against the hot pasta. These creamy, saucy, tender mouthfuls studded with tiny meatballs, braced by that sharp, tart wine. This is the magic of food and wine pairing- when the sum of each parts is so much greater than the whole.