STORY: Ah, Cara…. You probably have a friend like her. You know, the one that always looks like a million bucks, has her own unique style… the one that has an uncanny knack for picking penny stocks, a source in the cruise industry that gets her bargain prices on first class cabins, and who always finds an out-of-the-way boutique in Rome or Mendocino and comes home with one of kind, to-die-for clothes, at department store prices.
In a city of great restaurants, and overpriced restaurants, she knows the great but value-priced restaurants, often hidden away in unlikely locations. On a road trip up the Coast, she takes the right turn instead of the left, winds down some back roads, and into a small town, where you have some of the best food you’ve ever eaten, in a small café, served by the owner-chef, with sunset-lit mountains as a backdrop. The price seems ridiculously low… How did she find this place, you wonder?
Last fall she went to Italy… after a few days in Rome, she headed east, over the Apennines, into Umbria. Umbria? Not Tuscany, you ask? Not the Amalfi Coast? No, she said, Umbria – wild beautiful scenery and national parks, medieval hill towns, few tourists – and of course, great food and wine to be discovered. So many quaint family-run trattorias, so many small family wineries, making great wine as they have for hundreds of years.
“I love a winemaker who pours wine all over the rule book,” she says. (She would, wouldn’t she?) “And produces a wine better than the rules would allow….”
She’s pouring me some wine, a soft pale yellow with hints of green. The nose is delicate, almost ethereal, floral, peach and banana. I take a sip, trying to place it. Not quite a Frascati, the signature wine of Rome. Reminiscent of, but no, not the popular Orvieto, from southwestern Umbria. There’s something different about this wine, deliciously different. “It’s lovely, isn’t it?” she asks. “I drank this at the winery, outside a small village about 10 miles north of Orvieto. “ I nod, smiling, and savor another mouthful. Ah, Cara, the treasures she finds….
“It’s aptly named, don’t you think? Hedone – after the Greek spirit of pleasure, enjoyment and delight.”
“And amazingly,” she continues, “I found an importer here who actually has a few cases. I’ll tell you who after dinner…”
I’m looking forward to dinner, as Cara is also an amazing cook, and I can’t wait to find out where to buy a few bottles of this Cirulli Hedone Bianco. An evening of pure pleasure, indeed….
DESCRIPTION: This Hedone Bianco from the Cirulli winery is crafted from four grape varietals- Trebbiano, Grechetto, Malvasia, and Manzoni Bianco, in equal measure.
Grechetto contributes fruitiness and weight; Trebbiano is more delicately flavored with floral notes, and adds food-friendly acidity; Malvasia gives the wine a citrus aspect; and the Manzoni Bianco (or Incrocio Manzoni) brings elegance, acidity, beautiful balance, good body, and a refined, almost delicate character. Clearly, this is a winning combination, in the hands of an artist.
The grapes are carefully selected, immediately cooled to about 50°F, and softly pressed. The juice is clarified through cold settling and ferments slowly for 15-18 days. Each varietal is vinified separately, to allow for harvesting at the perfect ripeness, and aged for about 6 months in stainless steel to preserve all the fresh, fruity and delicate aromas and flavors of the grapes prior to blending.
Cirulli Hedone Bianco is a wine that is guaranteed to bring pleasure to almost any occasion – from sipping as an aperitif through dinner. It is a white wine for all seasons, not just a “summer sipper.” If you are looking for something just a little deliciously different, and an out-of-the-ordinary white wine (not “just another Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc or Soave, that anyone could find), that won’t break the budget and can be enjoyed every day, this is the white wine to choose.
Serve at about 50 degrees F for full flavor. Meant to be enjoyed now.
TASTE: Cirulli Hedone Bianco is most often described as “ethereal,” and perhaps that is appropriate for a wine named after the spirit of pleasure. It pours into your glass like sunshine onto a meadow – soft clear yellow, with green highlights.
The aromas are of fresh fruits, and white flowers.
The taste is fresh and juicy, delicate and creamy, yet expansive. Peach and banana, an intriguing tropical touch, with hints of different citrus fruits, supported by fine mineral and spicy notes. Refreshing, well-balanced and crisp, with the clear acidity that is the hallmark of food-friendly Italian wines. Hedone Bianco lingers, as pleasure should, long and lasting on the palate.
FOOD MATCHING: Cirulli Hedone Bianco is one Italian white wine that can be enjoyed on its own, as an aperitif, allowing you to appreciate all the lovely nuances of its flavor.
It is excellent with appetizers and first courses like a seafood antipasto (shrimp, scallops and calamari dressed with oil and lemon), or a light cream soup. We love it with clam chowder, or vichyssoise served with Prosciutto Asparagus spirals. It’s a nice compliment to a Caesar salad or Salad Nicoise.
It pairs well with pasta with cheese sauces, or pasta with seafood, and is wonderful with risotto with fresh herbs and saffron threads.
And of course, Hedone Bianco works well with chicken and seafood dishes. Its perfect with simple grilled or sautéed white fish with provencal or Mediterranean style sauces, served with grilled vegetables.