I attended the second "Food Wine and the Markets" dinner at Tutto Italiano this past Tuesday. Following is a review of the evening.
Wines served: This was truly an awesome lineup with no less than TEN top-quality Italian wines, a steal at $45 per person inclusive:
'03 Ceretto Moscato d'Asti (Santo Stefano cuvee)
'03 Livio Felluga Tocai Friulano, Colli Orientalli from Friuli V-G
'99 Villa Bucci Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Riserva
'00 Pieropan Soave Classico Superiore. 100% pure Garganega from the La Rocca Vineyard.
'01 Anselmi Soave Classico Superiore, Capitel Croce Vineyard, also 100% Garganega.
'01 Jermann Vintage Tunina, Collio, Friuli V-G. This is considered by some "Italy's Greatest White Wine", a meritage of Chardonnay, Malvasia, Ribolla, Picolit, & Sauvignon Blanc
'97 Raimondi Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore, Campo San Vito cuvee
'97 Cavallotto Barolo Riserva Vignolo, Castiglione Falletto
'97 Angelini "Val d'Suga" Brunello d'Montalcino.
'98 Castellare Vin Santo di Chianti Classico.
The sponsors chose a variety of foods to create some interesting food/wine matches:
ANTIPASTI: Carpaccio Piemontese, Grilled Calamari in possilipo, and a mini stuffed pizza. Red meat, seafood, and cheese were all present to play off the wines.
PASTA: 3 Cheese ravioli in creamy pesto, Gnocchi Bolognese... so both a cream/pesto item and a meat/red-sauce item were available to play off the red & whites.
MAIN: Veal Saltimbocca, more of a direct focus on the 3 reds, and particularly a "Barolo vs. Brunello" thing that worked very well.
DESSERT: by this time our memories were fading a bit from 9 wines, but it was a tasty vanilla & nut cake that was a nice shot at the Vin Santo.
Highlights: Again, for $45 including tax, tip, everything, this is a steal. I note that they really feature TOP WINES from great vintages. The 1997 Vintage was superb in both Piedmont and Tuscany, for example. The reds were all de-canted for over an hour prior to pour.
While the food was very serviceable, it took a backseat to the wine tasting, which is by design. I felt the best dish of the nite was the 3-cheese ravioli's, very plump pillows with great sauce. The gnocchi bolognese also very memorable. The rest of the dishes did their part as "backdrops" for the wine.
'03 Moscato d'Asti: You're just reminded how delicious this is, and what a great value it is. Ceretto's Santo Stefano is one of the very best, luscious and sweet, but still priced under $20. It started the evening out very right and you can't miss serving this as apertif.
Both Soaves. These wines just knocked me out. 100% Garganega, very luscious and rich. These are don't-miss wines and easily my favorite whites of the evening and among the best Italian whites I've ever had.
The '97 Brunello. Just stunning. Had this wine not been decanted for an hour or more it would have been too closed up. But the fruit was there along with the chocolatey/tarry richness of a great wine IN A GREAT VINTAGE. Of all the impressions of the evening, the quality of the '97 Brunellos is maybe the most impressive. BUY ALL THESE WINES YOU CAN STAND! They are marginally ready to drink now and will start flowering in about 3 years or so and stand up well for perhaps 5-10 years beyond.
The Tocai and Verdicchio were very weak, did little by themselves and not much for the food. The biggest disappointment was probably the Vintage Tunina. I'd never had it before and am in no rush to have it again. An un-focused "rambling" flavor that didn't match anything particularly well. It might have looked better if it wasn't alongside those massive Soaves!
Of the reds, the '97 Valpolicella seemed a bit aged. Even given it's a Ripasso Superiore from a great vintner, honestly Valpolicella drinks best young. I've had some dynamite '01's and think it best to stay in the 2-4 year range. Of course with Amarone you can go alot older.
The Barolo was very nice, from one of the two greatest recent vintages (96 and 97), and would have been alot more impressive if it didn't have to stand up to the Brunello.
Just before dessert a fromage course was served with: Parmesan Reggiano, Gruyere, Plain & Truffled Goat Cheese, Provolone (the real stuff), and Gorgonzola. They just went way over the top and this was a nice highlight to the whole feast. From my sketchy notes the goat cheeses matched nicely with both the whites and reds, the gruyere was awesome as usual with the whites and the parmesan was about perfect with the heavy reds.
Amongst the dining there was some lively discussions of the economy and markets as there are a fair number of "trader/investor types" who attend. All-in-all a tremendous evening and I'm looking forward to future tastings in this series!