Branchini Reno Pignoletto, great value and great wine from an appellation I’d never tasted

From the department of “just when you thought you knew everything about Italian wine, think again”…

best pignolettoWhile visiting my new restaurant client in Austin last night, Al Fico, I was thrilled to discover this super Pignoletto by Branchini from the Reno DOC, which lies northwest of Bologna overlapping the provinces of Bologna and Modena (check out the Google map screenshot below).

Most of the Pignoletto I’ve tasted this year comes from the Colli Bolognesi (southwest of Bologna), where I visited in June of this year for the first time.

It’s one of the most exciting appellations in Italian wine right now imho.

If the selection in the wine shop at Amerigo dal 1934 in Savigno in the heart of the Colli Bolognesi DOC is any indication, this designation is brimming with organic and biodynamic growers who are churning out super groovy, value-driven wine.

So when I saw the above Pignoletto on Al Fico’s list, I just had to order it and I assumed it would be from the Colli Bolognesi.

But when it arrived, I realized it’s from a DOC I’d never heard of before: Reno (here’s a link to a description of the DOC in Italian).

reno doc mapThis wine was fresh and bright on the nose and in the mouth it delivered surprising minerality and white fruit with a hint of citrus.

Gauging from the on-premise price, this wine is a fantastic value for the quality. I really loved it and if I can find it retail, it’s going to enter into rotation in the Parzen family’s “Monday through Thursday” wines (with an occasional appearance, I’m sure, on Sunday afternoons thanks to its restrained alcohol and lovely freshness).

al fico new italian restaurant austinO and Al Fico, you ask?

I’m kinda jazzed about the above photo I snapped of Chef Clinton Bertrand’s linguine al nero di seppia, which he tosses with cherrystone clams.

Pretty cool, right?

The restaurant’s still working out some of its kinks but both Chef Clinton and wine director Tom King have really been nailing it. I’ve only eaten there twice now but both meals have been spot on. The housemade pasta, in particular, has really impressed me, as has the ambitious all-Italian wine list.

The funniest thing is that Chef Clinton, an A16 alumnus, went to high school with Tracie P in Orange in southeast Texas!

It’s a small world, after all… but my wonderful world of Italian wine just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

Post scriptum: check out Alfonso’s excellent post in which he reflects on that expanding universe of Italian wine in the U.S.

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