“Dove regna il vino non regna il silenzio”
If you have ever been to an Italian dinner party, you will be familiar with this Italian proverb. Whether it is the celebration of a wedding, All Saints’ Day or Christmas, meals with family and friends in Italy are always accompanied by good wine.
Hence the proverb … where wine reigns, silence does not reign.
The Wine International Group Sydney
Meeting #45 ~ Italian wine and food theme
It is Dr. Fez and Dr. Mrs Fez‘s turn to play hosts for this wine tasting and they have chosen Italian as the theme for wine and food.
After a short one-hour flight from Sydney, we arrive at the sprawling estate of our hosts in Coffs Harbour. Mango, lychee and other tropical fruit trees are thriving in this ten-acre compound.
I am captivated by the majestic palms that reach up towards the skies.
The tall palms jealously surround a large swimming pool like a precious possession. Tropical flora abound amidst the song and laughter of cockatoos and kookaburras.
Throughout the day, about 148 champagne and wine glasses are being assembled on the dining table while the aromas of hearty Italian cooking are wafting from the kitchen.
It is customary for the host and hostess to serve sparkling wine or champagne to guests.
This evening we kick off proceedings with five bottles of Pol Roger, Piper-Heidsieck and Billecart-Salmon champagne from France.
Antipasto this evening is a platter of red and green olives, sundried tomatoes, baby capsicums stuffed with feta, spicy salami, bocconcini, prosciutto and pancetta.
“Feels like I’m in the middle of the Mediterranean!” someone quips.
Sprigs of fresh English parsley and basil garnish from the garden complete the tri-colours of Italy.
Meanwhile, Dr. Fez is toasting sourdough slices on a cast iron skillet in his outdoor kitchen.
“Now, who says I never use this kitchen?” he muses.
Bruschetta has been enduring so many variations from its tradition of sourdough rubbed with a fresh garlic clove then drizzled with EVOO and a pinch of salt.
Restaurants these days are calling it with smoked salmon, prosciutto, chicken pâté or even satay chicken.
For me, nothing looks better than good old diced ripened tomatoes, onions and basil with a drizzle of balsamic and olive oil. Well, maybe not when Dr. Mrs Groovy O & G is presenting bruschetta in a large platter (Cover image above).
Arancini balls are traditional made by deep-frying leftover risotto rice coated with pangrattato.
We are enjoying these crisp golden brown balls with a creamy rice centre and a pesto mayo dip.
Chunky bite size pieces of porchetta Italiano are being washed down with tastings of Italian vino.
As always, the challenge is to decipher the vintage, varietals and wine regions through a blind tasting.
This evening’s theme has us all guessing from Barolo to Amarone, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese and super Tuscans.
There is so much good wine in Italy that it is an educational sojourn for me this evening.
Dr. FZ has been unanimously voted to keep wine tasting notes and as usual, he has done a sparkling job. Here’s just a selection of the wines we uncovered this evening and his accompanying tasting notes.
2014 Pieropan Soave Classico
Served blind. Screw cap, 12% alc. Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave.
Mid yellow hue. Smells of tropical fruit mainly, with a herbaceous note. Light to
medium palate. Initially tastes a little sweet, but this reflects the generosity of
It’s certainly dry and fresh. There’s a hint of bitterness on the short finish.
2011 Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi Chianti Rùfina Nipozzano Riserva
Served blind. Cork. 13% alc.
Ruby coloured. Smells earthy, herbaceous. There’s cinnamon and dark fruits like
cherry and plum. Tastes a bit stemmy, like there’s a little Cab Sauv in there.
It’s medium bodied, with good acidity and a decent length on the clean finish.
2010 Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva
Served blind. Cork. 13.5% alc. 90% Prugnolo Gentile (Sangiovese Grosso) and 10% Canaiolo Nero.
Spends more than 2 years in oak casks, and 1 year in bottle before release. Looks quite dark red. Peppermint, spices, florals, berries, pepper and tar aromas. The palate follows these queues.
It’s medium bodied, with youthful tannins, which bring the wine to a strong finish.
2007 Giuseppe Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella Classico
Served blind. Cork. 16.5% alc.
Dark and brooding appearance. Raisins, plum, prune, currants. Almost Christmas
cake like. The palate is full bodied, with sweet and juicy black fruits. Bordering on
The density and rich style of these wines is unique and unforgettable.
Personally, this is my favourite wine of the evening. Though it is a little sweeter for my liking, its tradition of concentrating sugars from late harvest fruits make this wine rather distinctive with prune-like flavour and taste. Thanks to both Dr. Groovy O & G and Dr. FZ for introducing me to this wonderful drop.
2003 & 2007 Giuseppe Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella Classico
Served blind, and immediately after the 2007 vintage of the same wine. Cork. 16.5% alc.
Nose full of raisins, prunes, liqorice, dark chocolate and vanilla. Palate is full
flavored, complex and lush and follows the nose. There’s also leather and a mix
of sweet and pure dark fruits. Is there a touch of heat here, compared to the
The depth, density and texture of these wines is astounding. The finish is long, and carries both sweet and savoury nuances.
2010 Linnaea Trifulau Barolo
Served blind. Cork. 14% alc.
Pale garnet. Nose of florals, dried herbs, sour red cherries. One taster (Chopinand) could
Really aromatic and stylistically typical of the grape. It’s medium bodied, with good acidity and those characteristic puckering and gripping tannins which cry out for food.
2013 Castello di Bolgheri Bolgheri Varvàra
Served blind. Cork. 14.5% alc.
Smells a little confected with sweet black fruits and raspberries. The medium
bodied palate is meaty and shows dark chocolate and tobacco. Maybe a touch of
heat from alcohol. The tannins are well on the way to being integrated.
There’s collaring potential here. Made up of Cab Sauv, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Shiraz.
Baked cauliflower and cheese
The hostess’ osso bucco is impossibly tender, its meat falling off the shank bone in a rich and flavourful sauce made with tomatoes, carrot, celery and fresh herbs.
A selection of Italian cheeses, chocolate cakes and ice cream rounds up this fabulous Italian food and wine theme.
Vanilla ice-cream with aged balsamic vinegar
The sweetness from an aged balsamic is rather addictive when paired with a relatively neutral vanilla ice-cream.
Who says Modena is only famous for its Ferarris?
2009 Cooperativa Agricoltori Vallata di Levanto Cinque Terre Sciacchetra
Cork. 14% alc.
Honey/amber coloured wine that smells and tastes like honey soaked figs, with a
hint of orange rind. It’s quite sweet and full flavoured, much like a Muscat. Ideal
accompaniment to biscotti.
Grapes used are Grappoli di Bosca, Albarole and Vermentino. Air dried prior to
Thanks to our host and hostess for upping the ante on yet another fabulous wine tasting session and for hosting Mysaucepan and I in their beautiful abode.
We take a wander around the next day along Sapphire beach just a stone throw away from their home.
It is a beautiful day to also walk off the indulgence from the evening before.
So dear readers, what is your favourite Italian wine varietal and food?