Smells like horse shit and I’m glad I stepped in it: 01 Taurasi by Struzziero

“Smells like horse shit,” said Tracie P last night with no small amount of satisfaction when she and I opened a bottle of 2001 Taurasi Riserva Campoceraso (field of the cherry tree) with our friends, sommelier Mark Sayre and chef Todd Duplechan at Trio in Austin. I bought the bottle, a current release for Taurasi, back in February from my friend and fellow champion of the wine proletariat Roberto when I was out in Los Angeles.

Whenever I teach a class or lead a tasting, the attendees are often surprised when I tell them that “I want my red wine to smell like horse shit and fruit and taste like fruit and rocks.” Smell like shit? Yes, and be glad you stepped in it!

Of course, the canonical descriptor for aromas like these is barnyard and you’ll often find it used for certain categories of Pinot Noir, most famously for example, from Burgundy.

The 01 Struzziero — probably my favorite producer of Taurasi — was meaty and salty, with bright acidity, and showed rich black fruit and savory flavors in the mouth. And as the barnyard and a little bit of Bret Michaels wore off, delicate notes of red berry fruit began to emerge on the nose.

When chef Todd tasted the wine, he ingeniously created a pizza inspired by the flavors of the wines: speck, eggplant, shallots, blue cheese and Parmigiano Reggiano, and dried fig… I loved the pairing and I thought about how wonderful it is to break the chains that bind so many of the world’s noble wines, like this Taurasi. Too often, in my experience, people insist on pairing a wine like this with braised meats. Yes, traditionally, that’s what you would pair this with. But the whimsical — capricciosa — pizza culled unexpected bright notes from this rich and intense wine.

In other Texas news…

I’m super stoked to see that Mark and Todd are tweeting these days. I’m following and you should, too. These guys perform magic nightly at the restaurant and they’re now sharing some of their enogastronomic insights with the world (Tracie P and I are hoping that Todd will write about some of the baby food he and his wife Jessica, an awesome pastry chef, are cooking up for their newborn).

In other other Texas news…

Did you see that Alfonso and I are leading a panel on wine blogging at this year’s TexSom conference? You think “horse shit” is outrageous? Wait ’til you hear what Alfonso and I are going to talk about! NC-17, for sure. Now, if we could only get young Texan wine professionals to stop saying “som”!

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