February 26, 2010 Azienda Agricola Dario Princic
Dario Princic Sauvignon
This is the start of a month of new drinking terroirs. I am headed to Languedoc & Roussillon in France, to explore. That would include its food, and, of course, its wines.
But first, a day in London en route. An afternoon of research for a current project leads on to a recently opened wine bar and restaurant, one that I’ve been reading very good things about online — http://www.artisanandvine.com — Artisan & Vine at 126 St. John’s Hill, Battersea. Its wine list is thoroughly organic and natural. As it turns out, so are the people working there when we arrive. And delightfully engaging. Suvi, Oli, Marie, and Karlee — thanks everyone; we loved our evening!
Most memorable is a wine of Dario Princic. Neither white nor red, but what is sometimes called an ‘orange’ wine, its colour originating from the fact that the skins of its sauvignon blanc grapes have been left to add to the wine’s colour and structure during maceration, rather than being removed, as is the case in the making of most white wines. Pigment and tannin, which most white wine-makers would be at pains to avoid, are there for your drinking pleasure. Naturally interesting.
And orange, as you see. Or in Italian ramato, copper-coloured.
Dario Princic Sauvignon Blanco 2002
A somewhat cloudy ‘ramato’. Reminds me of unfiltered cider, leading me to think that I have been putting all too much emphasis on the clarity of wine in its glass. Regardless, the aromas filling its surface are quickly the focus. Earthy salts and minerals, and particles of seasoned fruits. Richly concentrated. In the mouth it is no less robust, with the citrus coming through, fine-grained in taste and structure. Lively. I am thoroughly loving this wine. $$
It goes particularly well with the scallops which the chef prepares just behind where we are sitting, our location having the advantage of being able to toss bits of conversation back and forth as he works (including our cross-Atlantic experiences of lobster). The seared scallops are resting on a pesto-like bed of mint and green pea. Delicious, absolutely. Equally so the lamb cutlet and tuna entrées that follow. Oh, and we mustn’t forget the brilliant chocolate brownie with warm chocolate sauce. Artisan & Vine thoroughly won us over. Return visit planned on the way back home.
Dario Princic makes his wines near the town of Oslavia in north-eastern Italy, very close to the border with Slovenia. Here limestone predominates. The dry winds are an aid to organic viniculture, which Princic has been practicing for more than twenty years. An individualist, it goes without saying, from his production of unfashionable ‘orange’ wine to their Motherwell-like labels. He is one of the founding members of Vini Veri, an association of Italian natural wine producers. The man obviously relishes his wine-making, and the culinary pleasures that accompany it.