Vino at Zino returns to Edwards Thursday with vintner Enrico Rivetto | VailDaily.com

Vino at Zino returns to Edwards Thursday with vintner Enrico Rivetto

Suzanne Hoffman
Special to the Daily
Vintner Enrico Rivetto enjoying the rich aromas of his Barolo.
Azienda Agricola Rivetto | Special to the Daily |

If you go ...

What: Vino @ Zino with Enrico Rivetto.

When: 6 p.m. Thursday.

Where: Zino Ristorante, Edwards.

Cost: $95 plus tax and gratuity for five courses with wine pairings.

More information: Seating for the dinner is limited. Reserve seats by calling 970-926-0777.

EDWARDS — For the past 20 years, traffic has increased across the imaginary wine bridge between the northwest Italian wine region of Piemonte and Colorado. For many of those years, traffic flowed primarily from east to west in the form of wine shipments from well-known producers. Great, often stellar vintages providing an abundance of beautiful, well-made wines as expressions of the distinctive Piemontese terroir have been the hallmark of the past two decades.

The result? Wine journalists increased the ink they dedicated to Piemonte, fostering greater interest in the region. Now traffic flows in both directions as wine tourists flock to Piemonte and producers increasingly come to Colorado to show their wines and educate consumers.

One of those producers is Enrico Rivetto from Serralunga d’Alba in the Barolo denomination of Langhe in Piemonte. On Thursday evening at Zino Ristorante in Edwards, Rivetto and his wines will take center stage with Executive Chef Nick Haley and his Piemonte-inspired cuisine for a five-course winemaker dinner.

PAYING HOMAGE TO NATURE

Eleven villages comprise the Barolo denomination. Except for Barolo, the namesake village of the prized aristocratic Nebbiolo, all the villages sit prominently atop hills with commanding views of the lush vineyard-carpeted slopes and valleys below. Each village is known for its terroir, that magical blend of soil, geography and weather that leads to their wines’ distinctive characteristics. Serralunga, one of the easternmost villages, accounts for approximately 17 percent of the denomination’s wines.

Rivetto’s vineyards lie in the marl, limestone and clay rich soil for which Serralunga is known. In recent years, thanks in part to warmer vintages, producers like Rivetto have tamed Serralunga’s “tannic beasts.” Serralunga wines today are for the most part more approachable in younger years though still powerful and complex with rounder tannins.

Like so many of his young fellow vintners, Rivetto reveres the terroir that nurtures his vines. He repays nature by eschewing chemicals to control weeds and pests or enhance production. Following traditions that pre-date toxic agricultural chemicals, Rivetto sows grassy plants and legumes in the vineyards to return nutrients to the soil and maximize water retention through increased soil compaction.

Rivetto’s commitment to sustainable practices that will protect the environment for vintages to come extends from the vineyard to the cantina (cellar). Although not yet certified organic, Rivetto is working toward certification and will join the growing ranks of his Barolo compatriots such as Giorgio Rivetti, Chiara Boschis and Elio Altare who refuse to poison the environment in order to manipulate nature.

PIEMONTESE-INSPIRED FEAST

When people think Barolo, they usually don’t think white wines. In fact, many Barolo producers take great pride in the absence of white wines from their portfolios. Rivetto, however, plays a significant role in the renaissance of Nascetta, an under-discovered wine from the Langhe’s only indigenous white grape. Haley’s pairing with seared diver scallops presents an excellent opportunity to experience this special wine sure to become popular in America.

Rivetto’s next offering is Barbara d’Alba “Nemes.” Haley and Rivetto will transport diners to the Langhe with their classic pairing of this Barbera with aromas of mature red fruits and delicate tannins with the rich flavors of carne cruda.

The first of two Nebbiolo offerings — 2010 Barbaresco “Ce Vanin” — comes from the vineyards of the Barbaresco denomination to the northeast of Serralunga. Haley will pair this garnet red wine possessing aromas of violets and truffles with cinghiale (wild boar) on egg-rich house-made tajarin. Finally, Haley pairs the star of the evening, the rich and velvety 2007 Barolo “Leon” Riserva, with stuffed quail. The “Riserva” designation is given to Barolos chosen only from a vintage’s best barrels exhibiting the greatest aging potential and are aged at least five years.

Haley counters all those rich, meaty flavors with his Piemontese Bonet. The traditional pudding-like sweet originated in the 13th century as a popular aristocratic dessert. Through centuries of culinary evolution, chocolate was added to the recipe. Rivetto chose Barolo Chinato as the libation to pair with this dolce. Although once used primarily for its medicinal qualities, Chinato now enjoys popularity as a dessert-loving digestive that pairs particularly well with dark chocolate.

Rivetto’s Chinato originates as Barolo DOCG and is flavored with china calisaya bark, rhubarb root and gentian. Following maceration at room temperature, Rivetto adds aromatic herbs, including cardamom seeds, to give its distinctive aromatic properties. Chinato has long been a symbol of Piemontese “rustic” hospitality and is a great ending to a traditional Piemontese meal.