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Riso Venere Nero + La Palazzetta Brunello di Montalcino 2016 #ItalianFWT

This month, the Italian Food Wine Travel bloggers are kicking off the final quarter of the year with the first of three big Bs of Italy. Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm is hosting the first month when we focus on Brunello. November will look at Barbaresco with Robin of Crushed Grape Chronicles; the year will wrap with Barolo with Li of The Wining Hour.

If you are reading this early enough, feel free to jump in our Twitter chat on Saturday, October 2nd at 8am Pacific. Follow the hashtag #ItalianFWT and be sure to add that to anything you tweet so we can see it. Here's the line-up of the articles about Brunello...

La Palazzetta Brunello di Montalcino 2016 

When I saw the line-up of the last three months of 2021, I think I dig a little jig of joy. Seriously. And I was thrilled to start with Brunello, mainly because I realized I have never focused on it. I was able to get my hands on a bottle of La Palazzetta Brunello di Montalcino 2016.

Let's start with this...Brunello isn't a grape variety. Brunello di Montalcino is a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG), a designation for red Italian wine produced in the vineyards surrounding the town of Montalcino, a province of Siena, which is about 50 miles south of Florence in  Tuscany. In the novel My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith - you can read my thoughts about it in my post Ribollita + Donatella Cinelli Colombini Rosso di Montalcino2016 - the strict boundaries of the DOCG lends itself to some rousing hilarity.

Brunello, is the diminutive of bruno which means 'brown' in Italian. And it was the name given to the grape grown in Montalcino until DNA results uncovered that Brunello and Sangiovese were one in the same grape. Brunello di Montalcino is a single varietal wine comprised 100% of Sangiovese. Traditionally the wine is fermented then aged for three years in oak casks that impart a pronounced vanilla oak flavor. Most winemakers divide their production into a normale and riserva bottling with the riserva bottles being held for an additional year after the normale release.

This bottle comes from La Palazzetta, a small family-run winery with 18 hectares of vines in the tiny village of Castelnuovo dell'Abate. Flavio Fanti grows his grapes organically and uses the fruit to make big, beautiful Brunello wines with his daughter Téa who hold a doctorate in oenology.

This pours an intense garnet color with a brownish rim that nods to its 'little brown' name. On the nose I jotted down blackberry with hints of chocolate and some definite spice aromas. Think star anise and vanilla. There was also the barest whiff of florals and the earthiness of leather. On the palate, fruit was primary with a brightness of cherry and blackberry, but nuanced herbs and spices with a hint of licorice make this a beautifully complex wine. What a pretty pour!

Riso Venere Nero

Riso Venere Nero is a black rice, a hybrid of the famed Chinese forbidden rice and a local Italian rice variety. As I do with farro, I cook this like a pasta. It's toothy and nutty and a great base for whatever you want to spoon over the top. For this pairing, I simmered shrimp in a fresh tomato sauce.

Ingredients serves 4 to 6
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (heads and peels reserved)
  • water
  • salt
  • 1-1/2 cups riso venere nero
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups fresh tomatoes, sliced into wedges or diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1/2 cup wine (whatever you have on-hand is fine)
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons freshly chopped basil plus more for garnish
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Place shrimp heads and peels in a full pasta pot of water. Bring the water to a boil, then let it steep until it cools. Strain out the peels and heads and add a few generous pinches of salt. Bring the water to a boil again and add in the rice. Boil until al dente, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. It might depend on the brand you are using, but start checking after 15 minutes. While the rice cooks, prepare the shrimp.

In a large pot or skillet, heat 2 to 3 Tablespoons of olive oil. Stir in the tomatoes and cook until they begin to lose their shape and create a sauce. Stir in crushed garlic and pour in wine. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the shrimp into the sauce and cook until pink and opaque, approximately 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Stir in 1 to 2 Tablespoons for fresh basil. 

Once the rice is cooked, drain it. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir to coat the grains. Turn the rice out onto a serving platter. Spoon the shrimp and sauce over the top. Garnish with fresh basil.

That's a wrap for the #ItalianFWT Brunello event. As I mentioned earlier, we'll be back next month with an eye on Barbaresco with Robin of Crushed Grape Chronicles. Stay tuned.


  1. Thanks for joining me Cam....I'm excited to have a new Fish Friday recipe that pairs well with red wine.

    1. Thank you for kicking us off on the three big Italian Bs. Great topics.

  2. This looks SOOO good. I also love that the peels and heads of the shrimp are used to flavor the dish. (I'm a weirdo who saves these things in the freezer for purposes like these.) I admit I'm curious as to how it paired with the wine.

  3. Beautiful dish. I had never heard of that rice before. I wouldn’t normally have tried a shrimp dish with Brunello, but with the hearty rice and a red sauce I bet it worked.

  4. I love this pairing! A perfect way to pair a seafood dish with a hearty red wine.

  5. Just watched the film. Will have to go with some Roma pasta I think. Great way to celebrate this Food 'n Flix feather---with wine!


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