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The Perfect Match – Simon Hill

Bistecca alla fiorentina – grilled 800g T-bone – rocket, pecorino and cherry tomato salad for two
2006 Isole e Olena’s ‘Cepparello’ Tuscany, Italy

When talking about food and wine matching in places like Italy sometimes it better to not try and re-invent the wheel. Locals have been pairing their wines with the regional cuisine for longer that the modern history of our country. Whether the chicken came before the egg is an argument I’ll leave for someone else but the general consensus is that, whether you’re in Veneto, Piedmont, Sardinia or Sicily the local wines have an affinity with the regional cuisine that is just not worth messing with. So while I did recently see a bistecca alla fiorentina paired with a wine from Campania, for our T-Bone my money is still on Tuscany.

Isole e Olena’s ‘Cepparello’ is Paolo de Marchi’s famed super Tuscan and a new addition to bar alto’s wine list. The wine has had its ups and downs but is in smashing form of late. 100% Sangiovese aged in small French oak barriques and for the first time sold in screw cap and spankingly clean. Medium to full bodied with classic cherry, dried fruit, cedar and cigar box aromas. Its cries out for the salt and savouriness of rare meat to bring out its fruit and in return it offers the tannin and grip to handle the texture of well-aged beef. It’s at the upper end of the price scale for alto’s wine list but if you want to understand the beauty of regional food and wine matching, I reckon it’s well worth it.