“Hurrian Hymn No. 6”
2016 Vermentino di Sardegna by Antonella Corda
Our musical selection for this week’s Pairing Note is inspired by history… and by history, I mean, waaaaay back to the 14th Century. Before Christ. Yep, that far back. It’s nowhere near the first piece of music written but it is considered the first melody transcribed in a way that we – modern folk – can interpret and replicate. The piece was discovered in the 1950s in the ancient Syrian city of Ugarit and is etched on clay tablets, composed in cuneiform by ancient Hurrians. The melody is designed to be played on a nine-string lyre. The sound produced by the lyre is somewhat haunting but given how long ago it was composed, it is not all that unfamiliar to western ears.
Musically, it is actually quite complex as well. One hand at times keeps a steady strumming or harmonic foundation while another hand picks out a melody. The end of the piece becomes more urgent and ardent. We are excited to pair this fabulous piece of ancient music to a wine from a very old place, Sardinia. The complexity of the piece pairs wonderfully with the Vermentino variety, which at first glance might seem a fairly easy, non-complex wine but hides quite a bit of complexity in the glass.
Sardinia is actually one of the oldest land masses in Europe, and it also happens to be one of the most prolific producers of the white wine variety, Vermentino. If you’re a fan of Sauvignon Blanc or Sancerre, this would be a good option for you to try. Higher levels of phenols can yield what some palates find to be a bitterness on the palate, though I have never tasted this. This particular wine is an excellent example of the wonderful value you can get in Vermentino. California is now growing some as well though the largest production still comes from Italy and France.
In my opinion, ricotta is an underrated cheese. Relegated to sitting between layers of pasta and eggplant in your lasagna, it is delicious in its own right. Its slight tartness combined with a creamy texture makes it ideal for spreading on a brioche toast with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. There are also many variations to ricotta. One that is popular on the island of Sardinia is ricotta infornata, or baked ricotta. Easy enough to make at home: simply spread a pound of fresh ricotta, drained and chilled for at least 24 hours, on into a buttered ceramic baking sheet, cover with a layer of salt, and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour and a half. You might also add another layer of salt on the top for some extra flavor and crunch! Let us know how it went!