Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Piedmontese food and wine tasting – Cuoco, Renato Ratti Winery and Soul Wine

Posted on: Monday 01 August 2011

Cellar door tastings are free at most Australian wineries. We did a couple of day tours of California Wine Country on bicycles last year and we were shocked that we had to pay up to fifteen dollars for a flight of wines in the Napa Valley.

When I read that Soul Wine and Tom Douglas Restaurants were hosting Renato Ratti Winery, I called immediately to reserve spots. At twenty five dollars for the Piedmontese wine tasting and food pairing, it was exceptional value.

Ting Momo was an ideal space for the size of the group. Two long tables were set in the narrow room. 

The afternoon sun shone brilliantly and a cool breeze drifted in through the open windows.

Behind Brave Horse Tavern and above Cuoco in the Terry Avenue Building, Ting Momo serves Tibetan dumplings for weekday lunches. Aluminium tables, wicker chairs and wooden benches add to a casual feel.

Seven wines and five dishes were on the menu and the wines were generously discounted for order.  

Cuoco Chef Stuart Lane briefly described how each of the dishes was cooked.

Tom Douglas Restaurant Executive Chef Eric Tanaka assisted in the kitchen. The dishes were plated on the Ting Momo counter.

I love the vintage style labels on the Renato Ratti wine bottles.

Many Australian and New Zealand wines are twist tops. We’ve used our wine opener more in the last six months than in the previous six years!

We sipped on the first wine, 2009 Dolcetto d’Alba Colombè, as attendees trickled in. One of those was Tom Douglas!

The melodic sound of wine being poured into a glass, swirling the ruby liquid to release the aromas, caressing the stemware to reflect light, staring contemplatively at the wine legs – the beautiful ritual of wine tasting!

On the right is Michael Teer, owner of Soul Wine. Michael introduced his friend, Pietro Ratti on the left. Pietro’s father, Renato, worked in Brazil for the Cinzano company before returning to Piedmont and bought his first vineyard in 1965. Pietro inherited the winery from his father and he applies the same philosophy and approach as Renato. Pietro spoke with passion and humour, and we were all charmed by his Italian accent!

The region is also known for white truffles and Pietro joked that it’s better than the French ‘black potatoes’. Pietro explained that the Renato Ratti Winery owns parcels of land throughout the region and is not an estate. Grapes vary depending on soil (sandy or clay) and altitude (temperature); there are different microclimates within a distance of less than twenty miles.

Barolo is labour intensive, and it is manual and not mechanical. The viticulture is only on a hillside facing the sun at specific latitude. The grapes are tasted to determine when and where to pick. Each cluster of grapes is cut by hand. Cotton gloves are worn to protect the wax (natural water proofing) and yeast (natural fermentation) on the grapes.

The grapes are then crushed by equipment to replicate the gentle movement of feet. By law, Barolo has to age for at least twenty four months. Pietro recommended ‘drinking ’07 and cellaring ’06’.

Tom Douglas queried why Pietro doesn’t produce Rosato. Pietro responded that the yield is small and it interrupts the summer! Pietro mingled among the groups as we ate and drank and he happily answered our questions.

An earthenware plate with a slice of marinated red pepper was brightened by grassy green fava beans. Marinated in vinegar, the red pepper was a lovely balance of sweet and sour.

Carne cruda is a traditional Piedmontese dish. Similar to tartare, this was made with lightly seasoned minced lamb and drizzled with olive oil. This was the first time I’ve eaten raw meat and it was less meaty than expected, more like tuna.

Perched on the Barbera braised onions was a wedge of Toma. The layers of translucent onions were daintily sweet and their edges dyed by the wine. A Piedmontese cheese, the mild and creamy Toma highlighted the flavours of the small bulbs. Chef Stuart Lane noted the key to cooking onions is to lose rawness but retain freshness.

A tiny leg of quail was atop a smear of liver pâté. Golden and crispy on the outside, the quail was plump and moist. Mr S exalted the smooth and buttery liver pâté.

The final course was Nebbiolo Kobe beef cheeks with spiced lardo toast. Dark and chunky, the beef was easily pulled apart with only a fork. It was tender and enriched by the Nebbiolo.

Chef Stuart Lane commented on the interplay between food and wine, that it is a transformative relationship. Each bite and sip reveals depth and complexity to the food and wine.

Sincere thanks To Pietro Ratti for visiting Seattle, Soul Wine for organising the tasting event, Ting Momo for hosting, and Cuoco for the food pairings. Grazie!

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2 Responses to "Piedmontese food and wine tasting – Cuoco, Renato Ratti Winery and Soul Wine"

[…] Momo is only open for weekday lunch and is the perfect space for special events. Chef Eric Tanaka and others were busily finalising the preparation as damp patrons trickled in […]

[…] we did the last three years in Sydney. They’re affordable and of quality. We’ve sampled Piedmontese wines and learned about French wines from Gallic friends. My knowledge of Spanish wines was limited […]

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