Notes from an Italian dinner.
I had some fully mature Italian wines I’d been wanting to try and so created a dinner to do that.Henriot Souverain Brut
– this non-vintage champagne is probably about 15 years old or a bit more, having been released for the year 2000 celebrations (I like the complexity that age gives even NV bubble). It was pleasant clean and tasty.
Served with foie gras on toasted baguette slices and walnut and Roquefort gougeres.2009 Tamelini Soave
– this wine has developed well over the last two years and now shows some nice lemon colour, an enticing nose of floral and sweet fruit notes, and a smooth medium long finish.
Served with a couple of tasting spoons, one with seared ahi tuna with black olive tapenade and the other with divers scallops that I seared, cut in half and reconstructed as miniature BLTs – with a square of maple glazed bacon, a thin slice of Roma tomato and a spinach leaf standing in for the lettuce, topped with a dab of fairly assertive sauce flavoured with smoked paprika, rather like a spicier hotter Romesco.2007 Max Ferd. Richter Brauneberger Juffer Kabinett
– I love German Rieslings yet so seldom incorporate them into a meal, so I opted to make the move from Italy to include this wine, younger than I would normally drink it. It showed little colour, a typical elegant petrol Riesling nose after it warmed slightly, had some very nice apricot and wet stone in the nose, and a long clean crisp finish.
I thought the wine worked very well with a salad of sliced pars, not too ripe, with shallot, bacon and shaved Asiago, dressed only with reduced balsamic vinegar. The balsamic, when reduced, gains sweetness without losing acidity and functions as both components of the normal oil/vinegar dressing, without needing to use oil. It also works off the sweetness of the pear beautifully.1995 Selvapiana Chianti Rufina Riserva Bucerchiale
– I wanted to see how this mature Chianti was doing. Well the first bottle wasn’t doing well at all, exhibiting huge mounts of TCA in the nose, yet interestingly not being totally lacking in fruit on palate compared to the next unaffected bottle I opened. I’ve learned that TCA and fruit in the wine, while clearly related, do not seem to operate proportionally with the more corked wines having less fruit.
In any case, the second bottle brought up form the cellar, showed very well with cherry and herbal notes in the nose, decent fruit in the middle, and significant if softening tannins. We discussed whether the fruit would decline at a faster rate than the tannin, a troubling issue and one I’ll monitor over the next 5 years. Nonetheless a pleasant wine and it worked well with the food, which was papardelle with a cream sauce that included leeks, parmesan, lots of fresh thyme, and bacon bits (OK, so I like bacon!)
Next was the main wine feature, and this pair were served blind, disclosing only that both were Italian. I served the Solaia first as I expected it to be eclipsed by the next wine.1988 Antinori Solaia
– marked as being a joint venture between Piero and Lodovico (by 1990 it was marked a Piero’s wine only – anyone know the story?), this wine was fairly pricy and highly allocated on release (I think Wine Speculator had given it a 97 point review which elicited a charge on the limited supply). It is usually about 80% cab and other Bordeaux varietals and 20% Sangiovese. The wine was deep red with pale edges, the nose showed the cabernet, although it wouldn’t trick you into think Bordeaux, although there was cassis and hints of wood smoke. On palate it was smooth and sweet and finished with clean acidity. It was judged a pretty nice wine. And then I poured the next wine!1988 Sassicaia
- similar depth of colour but with darker red edges, the nose instantly engaging to the point where most of us just sat there sniffing and not tasting it – pure olfactory catnip to us, a great nose, not just a good nose. Ripe with vanilla and blackberry notes and a hint of tobacco, this was a complex nose that made the fairly pleasant nose of the Solaia seem simple. In the mouth it was juicy and had impressive concentration and sweetness and it had less acidity and carried more of the fruit right through to the nice long end than had the other wine. No, it wasn’t as good as the 1985 (which I am running low on) but it was an impressive second in that decade. Happy I have a half case yet to enjoy.
Served with braised lamb shanks on a bed of white beans.1994 Cosimo Taurino Patriglione
– the dry red I chose to finish the dinner with cheese is a wine I bought a case of and I’m about half way through it with no sense of rush. It is a Puglian wine made from Negroamaro and often some Malvasia Nero, and often comes across as slightly off dry. This one had a ripe nose of dried fruit and tar, and while it showed as ripe in the mouth, it was fairly dry in the finish.
Served with an assortment of cheeses and a half pear hollowed and filled with a mixture of walnuts, whipping cream, Cognac and Roquefort cheese, piped in and topped with a walnut half.