The “sheep poop theory”: Cesanese del Piglio and cacio e pepe

When it comes to food and wine pairing, one of my favorite motti is owed to New York restaurant legend Danny Meyer: if it grows with it, it goes with it…

It’s what I call the “sheep poop theory”: you want to pair the wine with the cheese made by the sheep that poop in the field next to the vineyard where the wine is raised. Now, that’s what I call terroir!

The other night, when some friends brought an excellent bottle of 2006 Terenzi Cesanese del Piglio from Latium to our favorite BYOB joint in Austin (the name of which I cannot reveal lest it cease to be our best-kept secret), we asked the chef to whip up one of the simplest and most delicious dishes in the world, classic Roman cacio e pepe, long noodles tossed with Pecorino Romano and freshly cracked pepper.

So little Cesanese makes it to the U.S. these days and sadly, none — save for that which is smuggled in — makes it to Texas.

With its classic black pepper notes, it’s as if this wine were created expressly to pair with cacio e pepe. I thought the wine showed brilliantly: red fruit on the nose and in the mouth, zinging acidity (despite its age), and pepper, pepper, pepper combined with a gently chewy mouthfeel… Delicious…

Does anyone know of a Cesanese available here? It’s such a great summer red and I drink it any chance I get!

What’s your favorite Cesanese?

14 thoughts on “The “sheep poop theory”: Cesanese del Piglio and cacio e pepe

  1. Small Vineyards imports (or used to) a Cesanese Romano (Compagnia Di Ermes, 2007), that we used to carry here at Travis Heights Beverage World . I’ll call my rep to find out if they have any left over…

  2. Thanks for all the tips on Cesanese making it to this country!

    @Brother Tad we’ll have to make some cacio e pepe next time I visit with yall in LJ. I’ll bring the Cesanese…

    • hi Jeremy.
      Cesanese Romano available from Small Vineyards Imports. (Through Republic Dist.) A touch under $20/bottle. Let me know if I can help…

  3. We import this wine — it will be DOCG with the 2008 vintage Cesanese del PIglio only). Armando Terenzi was just in California tasting the new vintage to our customers. A beautiful improvement on what is already (IMHO) a fantastic wine. Anyone know a distributor in TX interested in bringing this wine into the state, let us know!

  4. From my swedish perspective I can say that the gourdious wines made of Cesanese is a sad black hole on the swedish “systembolaget”. You have to travel whole the way to Rome to find “it”. The crap you find here, with mostly Sangoivese etc, is not a drink you can call pure Red Wine. i think here is a Great market for creative entrepreneurs.

  5. Found a Cesanese Olevano Romano Silene a shop owner here in Colorado Springs chose for a dinner tomorrow night. Was digging around online because I can’t remember ever tasting a Cesanese (maybe at VinItaly in 2010, but 200 wines into the day, who can remember?). I figured if anyone was writing about it then it would by you, Jeremy (hence the 2 year delay in commenting). Way back in the corners of my mind I remember learning about the Cesanese del Piglio and it’s historical presence. Am a little concerned this may not jive with the typical American palate around the table, but we’ll see … I won’t mention sheep poop, just in case, during the wine/food discussion. Here is the website for this producer: & saw it online at Sam’s Wine Country too! Cheers ~ Valerie

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