Pieropan Calvarino and a herby dressing for salmon

Last weekend some close friends came over for Sunday lunch. We’re in the middle of a run of birthdays at the moment, so I decided to open something nice. Step forward the Calvarino from Pieropan (2010 vintage). It’s a wine I know and love. I have a bit of a thing for Italian whites, Italian wines in general if truth be told.

This wine, produced by the Pieropan family, comes from the heart of the Soave Classico zone in Italy’s Veneto region. The name Calvarino derives from ‘little calvary’ reflecting the difficulty of working this steep and challenging vineyard.

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The wine itself (a blend of 70% Garganega and 30% Trebbiano di Soave) was rich and delicious; quite floral on the nose, but I could also smell lemon zest, pears and almonds…perhaps a hint of straw, too. On the palate, I’d describe it as an elegant fusion of lemon oil, pears and the merest touch of honey. That’s not to say the Calvarino is sweet in any way. It’s very much a dry wine, but there was just enough of a contrast to soften and balance the edges of acidity from the lemony notes. The finish was long and citrusy with an interesting mineral note (interesting in a good way).

The Calvarino is a complex wine, one best partnered with food, as opposed to being sipped on its own. Luckily the lunch I’d prepared proved up to the job of matching this stylish Italian. We enjoyed the wine alongside some salmon fillets, Jersey Royals and green beans, all accompanied by a punchy, herby dressing – this is where the salmoriglio comes in.

I got the idea for the salmoriglio dressing from a Rick Stein recipe on the BBC Food website, although I made a few tweaks to it, mainly to dial up the lemon. So here’s my version of the salmoriglio – fantastic with baked salmon fillets and I could also see it working with tuna, chicken or as a marinade for feta cheese. In my haste to serve lunch, I forgot to take a photo of the dressing before we sat down to eat, but I did manage to capture a shot of the last spoonful or two before we finished.

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Salmoriglio Dressing (serves 4):

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

½ tbsp water

2½ tbsp lemon juice

1 small garlic clove, crushed or very finely chopped

1 tbsp fresh oregano, finely chopped

1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

Pinch of salt and pinch of pepper to taste

Place the oil, water and lemon juice in a small bowl and whisk together until thick and emulsified. Add the garlic, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper and stir well. You can add a little more oil or lemon to suit your preferences. Spoon the dressing over baked or grilled salmon fillets with new potatoes and serve.

Wine stockist: I bought the Pieropan Calvarino 2010 from The Wine Society

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