A sommelier friend and I pored over the short but eclectic wine list at Caffè Sociale, a pleasant neighborhood Italian restaurant in San Francisco, seeking something light and easy-drinking to go with my sea bass roasted in olive oil and his pappardelle with braised duck sauce. It was the classic conundrum for wine lovers in restaurants: Which wine to drink over a meal that has both fish and meat, delicate and hearty flavors?
Our waiter pointed to Castello di Verduno’s Basadone 2008 and described it as “peppery Beaujolais.” Sounded like a plan, and it turned out to be a great choice. Light and transparent like a Beaujolais, the savory Italian red delivered its cracked black pepper aromas at peak volume. This is apparently a characteristic of the ultrarare Plaverga Piccolo grape, at least as grown in the chalky soils of Verduno, a town just barely within the northern border of the Barolo zone. A glow of cherry and raspberry fruit balanced the spiciness nicely. 88 points, non-blind.
And yes, it was light enough to go with my fish and savory enough for my companion’s duck ragù. A versatile wine.