Wednesday, March 11, 2009

An Exploration of Italy's Best Food & Wine

Last Saturday at LaVigna Italian restaurant in Forest Hills my friend Eric Guido hosted a fantastic tasting of 8 Italian wines paired with a menu to match.

1st Course: a typical Italian antipasto of dried meats, cheeses, peppers, lettuce, etc. paired with:
Col Vetoraz, Prosecco di Valdobbiadene

2nd Course: Pasta with Vodka Sauce with the following 3 Barberas:

Giacomo Conterno, Barbera 2005
Resinous aromas of earth, contrasting a fruitbasket of currants, plums and cherries, then chewy mouthwatering flavors of violets morph into a refreshing complexity and finishing with smoky, mineral notes. A luscious acidity makes this wine sing in perfect harmony with the Pasta.

Bruno Giacosa, Barbera, Falletto 2005
Dark fruit aromas, with a slightly chalky edge, this one is a more modern version of a Barbera. I found really unique notes of cherry pez candy, minerals, stone and a gasoline undertone. A great food wine with a healthy dose of acidity and smooth, silky tannins.

Domenico Clerico, Barbera, Trevigne 2005
Another modern Barbera with a floral background, a fair amount of toasted wood on the nose along with hints of vanilla. Well balanced with silky tannins and full body, this one goes on an on. By this point we're all taking a bite of pasta, then a sip of an alternating Barbera.

3rd Course: Filet Mignon in a Barolo sauce paired with:

Paolo Scavino, Barolo “Carobric” 1997
“Carobric” is actually a blend of 'Cannubi', 'Rocche' and 'Bric del Fiasc' and is a subtle play on words meaning 'expensive ridge' in Italian.

A rich bouquet of dark berries and roses with hints of truffles, rounding out to a dusty licorice, with leather, fresh herb, mushrooms and a hint of tar. This Barolo defines mouth-watering.

Tenuta La Fuga, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva “Le due Sorelle” 2001
This Brunello is aged in Slavonian oak for 42 months, then another 18 months in bottle before release. Eric describes this as a "wilder" Sangiovese and I have to agree with his description. Drenched in complex aromas of cherries, licorice and violets, followed by a flavors of minerals, smoke, tobacco, oak, and coffee. Notes of a pleasant medicinal finish linger and reveal a long finish with tannins that are well balanced with the earthy fruitiness of this great food wine. This one was my favorites of the night.

Mastroberardino, Naturalis Historia 2000
From Irpinia in Campania comes Naturalis Historia which is a single-vineyard blend of 85% Aglianico and 15% Piedirosso, aged in small French oak barrels for 18 months, followed by 12 months in bottle before release. White pepper and spices permeate the nose with violets and plums, combining with essences of cherries, mild toast and leather, and a delicious herbal quality that reminds me of an Italian Liqueur called Averna.

... and the finale...
La Sala, Vin Santo del Chianti Classico 2001
By this point in time, I was just so into enjoying the wines that I stopped taking notes, but I remember the nuttiness and intensity of flavors. Here are Eric's notes: ...trades sweetness for spiciness. As is traditional in Italy, biscotti is "dunked" in Vin Santo. Amber yellow, long and intense, complex undertones of spicy dried fruit and roasted nuts.

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