La Ciccia and Vermentino

We here at saignée (i’m using the we to refer only to me, by the way), being a nervous, fidgety bunch, like wines that get under our skins and root around for a bit, forcing us to refine, focus, rerefine our aesthetic evaluations of them.

Such a wine was discovered for me last week at what has quickly become my favorite restaurant in all of San Francisco, La Ciccia in Noe Valley. La Ciccia is a true husband and wife affair, run by the friendly, charming couple Massimiliano Conti and Lorella Degan who serve up serious, hearty, thoughtful Sardinian cuisine (try the sardinian cheese/honey dessert) accompanied by one of the most focused wine lists i have yet seen. “Focus” is of course a hard word to define here. The wines are all Italian based, of course, but anyone can do that with ease. There is also a good deal of Sardinian wines on the list to further narrow it down, but again not so hard to accomplish. The list is focused because it is so food friendly, and furthermore, food friendly with the food they are serving. Any wine geek with a small amount of knowledge can look at the list and the menu and begin to swim in the pairing possibilities which is, of course (or should be), the point of any good wine list. It is not just a sidebar to the menu, something there for people who like to drink wine, but rather a part of the menu itself.

So what to do when presented with such pairing oppurtunities? Go classic. Sardines and vermentino (if you’re ever in a sardinian restaurant and don’t order sardines, consider yourself ashamed). Like muscadet and oysters, this is a pairing that you really have no business messing with because time is better spent figuring out questions that haven’t already been answered yet. So that is what i did.


Dettori Bianco 2006, IGT Sardinia: This is a wine i’d been meaning to try for a few months ever since it was recommended by Levi Dalton of Convivio fame, and re-recommended by Guilhaume Gerard of former Terroir fame. Even with these strong recommendations i was taken aback by the complexity and freshness of the wine. The color is a dark yellow, something that comes from a brief skin contact, but the wine has little of tannic seriousnessthat one associates with most orange wines. Someday soon one of the basic taste descriptors for vermentino will be “lemon pledge” because, well, it smells like lemon pledge. Not the chemical aspects of the cleaning liquid, rather the “almost lemon but not quite lemon” that you get from it. There is a fabulous clean texture to the wine and a crisp acidic aspect that really balances out the lingering finish. This is still purely vermentino, yet, so much more than what has preceded it for me. Now i have a new itch that needs to be scratched.

Notes: I also had a 1996 Cascina Morassino Barbareco Ovello the same night. It really was a good meal.

Speaking of wine lists, Eric Asimov wrote up the list of Chris Deegan at NOPA two days ago. Chris is a great guy and his wine list is worthy of the praise, so congratulations. Read it: HERE

For whatever reason my blog appeared in The Atlantic yesterday alongside better blogs: HERE. The Article is worth reading for a master sommelier being outraged over natural wines and calling them “bullshit.” Good times.

My next post is about the worst meal i’ve ever eaten. Stay tuned.

~ by Cory Cartwright on October 17, 2009.

6 Responses to “La Ciccia and Vermentino”

  1. I like your use of pluralis majestatis (the royal we) and I love that Vermentino. Dettori’s wines are awesome.

    Congrats on the Atlantic nod!

    Sounds like me and Tracie B would like La Ciccia…

  2. Re: the link from your link–“Court of Master Sommeliers.” Is it any wonder so many people are afraid of wine.

  3. “[The wine list] is not just a sidebar to the menu, something there for people who like to drink wine, but rather a part of the menu itself.”

    Really great point, and one that- unfortunately- too many restaurants can overlook. Especially at an Italian place (although I’d be scared to call a Sardinian an Italian to his face), where wine is really just a condiment; another part of the meal.

  4. Had that wine at that resto with that food a month ago, and agree completely.

  5. how was the ovello? my last experience with it was not so good…

  6. […] Skakun, where we drank (of course) a bottle of Dettori Bianco (which i have written about before HERE) and a bottle of Montevertine’s entry level bottling a 2006 “Pian del Ciampolo.” […]

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