By Jamie Gabrini
Is that the sun?!
Spring hath sprung, kids! At least it has momentarily, though I suppose in Buffalo, this chick ought not count her eggs before they done hatched. Regardless, seeing the sun and the calendar turn to April has me craving the vernal. This week, were going green.
Thanks to the generosity of friends, I was able to score a bottle of the 2005 Laxas Albarino. I dont know if its available just yet in stores, but Id been raving about earlier vintages and got hooked up with a sample. It was, I was assured, better than 03, with which Id been underwhelmed. Despite the less-than stellar 2003, Ill always remember Laxas as my induction to Albarino. I now have a pretty high bar.
Hailing from the Rias Baixas D.O. in Northwestern Spain, the vineyards of Bodegas As Laxas are acidic and sandy and benefit from a maritime (read: moderate) climate. The thick-skinned Albarino grape thrives there, withstanding heat and rainfall fluctuations throughout the year. The resulting wines are refreshing and fabulously food-friendly, with enough acidity to be able to withstand creamy and fatty dishes, but round enough to be savored alone.
My bottle of the 2005 Laxas was staring at me in the fridge. Drink me, it whispered as I tried to figure out what the heck to make for dinner. A pitcher of leftover parsley attempted to placate the lonely bottle when it struck me: parsley pesto! The perfect snappy greenness that would allow the Albarino to sing!
As I let the wine warm slightly out of the fridge (dont serve it too cold youll kill the wonderful aroma!), I toasted from pine nuts in the oven and lopped off handfuls of parsley. I put the parsley in my lil Cuisinart and added some fresh thyme, grated parmesan, the pine nuts, salt, pepper, and a squirt of fresh lemon juice. I blasted that baby and added olive oil through the top as it got all rich and creamy. In salted boiling water, I cooked about half a pound of campanelle pasta until al dente. Feel free to use your favorite shape I like shapes like orecchiette and campanelle because they hold pestos and thick sauces well. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the water to moisten the pesto if necessary. Dont rinse or cool the pasta just plop the pesto right in and let the heat help make it all malleable as you mix it together.
The Albarino paired perfectly with the dish because its not a basil-based pesto, which would be too sharp in flavor and therefore overwhelm the wine. Instead, I savored the orange-blossom and white peach aromas in tandem with the rich vegetal green of the parsley. The wine ($15-$20 retail) offered fresh orange water, delicate honey, stoniness, and a trace of lily flowers on the palate, enticing me to take another sip. Theres certainly acidity on the finish, but its not scathing and sharp, providing just enough structure.
Thankfully, the sun looks like it might stick around a few days. If not, Ive got some Big Brawny Cali Cabs lined up to help shovel snow. A wine chick must always be prepared.