By Jim Campanini
The meal was simple and superb – mussels, shrimp, spaghetti, and spicy pasta sauce sprinkled with parmesan cheese. The Wine Goddess, my wife Mary Lee, cooked it in 15 minutes, about the time it takes me to shave in the morning.
The WG never ceases to amaze me. After a long day of looking at her laptop computer screen and charting the progress of her new seedlings growing throughout the house, she just jumps up, grabs a pot or pan, and creates gustatory miracles.
While I contribute a green salad now and then, my primary role is serving as sommelier and selecting the wine – giving all due consideration to WG’s admirable talent to use herbs and spices to produce compelling flavors in the food.
On this evening, a bottle of 2015 Fattorie Le Pupille Morellino di Scansano DOCG ($18) came to the top of the list. This is not a very familiar red wine to American consumers, although it holds a place of reverence in southern Maremma on Tuscany’s west coast. It is a beautiful wine – dark plum color with gleaming ruby highlights – and both sensory and succulent. Many people confuse the grape’s name, Morellino di Scansano, with Morello cherries. While there might be an ancient connection, Morellino is a local clone of Sangiovese and takes its name from the local “Morelli” horses whose animal coats resemble the deep color of the grape’s skin.
The Morellino di Scansano DOCG appellation is small. Vineyards rise from the coast in the rustic hills located to the east and southeast of Grosseto and extend inland to the Ombrone and Albegna rivers. The medieval village of Scansano is at the heart of the growing zone. Against this Mediterranean backdrop is located Elisabetta Geppetti’s Fattorie Le Pupille’s “mosaic” 420-acre estate of pasture lands, olive groves and five vineyards pieced together during her 30 years as head of the family business. In 1982, her first vintage, the site consisted of two farmhouses (“Le Pupille”) where wine was made. Today, a modern winery produces 500,000 bottles annually.
By law, Le Pupille Morellino di Scansano must contain at least 85 percent Sangiovese in the blend. Alicante (Canonnau) and Ciliegiolo fill out the balance in this bottling. (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are other authorized blending grapes.) The 2015 vintage we drank was fragrant, fresh and juicy. Yes, there’s plenty of dark cherry and black fruit notes; however, the bright acidity, soft texture, wild spices and lingering dry finish made it a most captivating wine with the mussels, shrimp, pasta and tomato basil sauce. Fattorie Le Pupille is available at Vino Italiano in Waltham and other fine wine shops.
When I congratulated the Wine Goddess on another “million-dollar meal”, she said the entire menu, with a green salad, cost $18 for two, plus there were leftovers for a second night. I was stunned. She disclosed her Market Basket shopping list:
Pier 33 Gourmet Fully Cooked Mussels in Tomato Garlic Sauce, one microwave package, $3.99.
3/4 pounds of colossal shrimp, $8.
2 jars Bertoli tomato and basil sauce, $5.
1 pound of spaghetti, 99 cents.
I tipped my glass to the Wine Goddess and proclaimed “La bella vita!” to which she instantly replied, “La bella budget.”