Nostrana in SE Portland is one of my all time favorite places to eat. It's terrific. Cathy Whims is well noted as a top chef in this city and beyond. The pizza oven cranks out incredible pies. The room, though large and potentially cavernous with high, exposed beams, is surprisingly intimate and comfortable. And...I've had a few meals here that were particularly special to me.
So I jumped at the chance to eat there the other night when a friend - a fellow dad (our kids are friends) and wine industry vet (he generously helped with my last open house) - suggested we stop in after checking out a middle school open house for our daughters. The open house didn't work out for me, but the real draw was Nostrana. And as it turned out, the 2007 Vietti Langhe Nebbiolo "Perbacco."
I started with a glass of bubbly from the Quattro Mani project, this a Franciacorta from NE Italy that's tremendous sparkling wine and a great value. The real story was the Perbacco. I've enjoyed this lower end Vietti bottling in the past, and noticed Antonio Galloni's glowing reviews of this wine in the Wine Advocate and on Grape Radio. Galloni says it's made just like all the fancy Barolo and Barbaresco in Vietti's cellar, just aged less and bottled earlier. This wine delivers on that promise.
We each ordered the Insalata Nostrana, rich with garlicky Caesar dressing and parmasean over raddichio. My friend immediately commented that the Perbacco seemed more Barolo than Barbaresco, darker fruited and surprisingly good with salad. Then came the pizzas, mine with herbs and sausage and an egg cracked right into the middle of the pie. The wine seemed a little more floral and high toned in this setting, still more modern in flavor, dark and rich but clearly nebbiolo with rounder tannin than most wines at this eschelon.
The food was fantastic and we talked about lots of things guys talk about. The wine was delicious, something I wouldn't think to put in the cellar but for the money it's really hard to argue with. Less traditional the Produttori di Barbaresco's Barbaresco normale, but a nice change of pace and clearly of its place. There's no mistaking this for anything but Piemontese nebbiolo. Think about it if that sounds interesting, and give Nostrana a try if you're in town. It's that good.