Foie Gras receives a different preparation on most nights. Tonight it was pan-seared with sautéed apples and served atop crostini. It was a perfectly prepared dish that really did not need the crostini.
The star pasta of the evening was Bucatini sauced with a little neck clam ragu and sprinkled with toasted breadcrumbs and chilies. Pasta was cooked perfectly and sauce was balanced with a hint of the briny sea.
Jim was our wine guide for the evening and he escorted us on a terrific tour of Italy, beginning in the Veneto region of Northern Italy. There are many estates in the area, but none, in the opinion of many, better than Giuseppe Quintarelli. The essence of his wines is captured in his own words. “The fundamental problem in wine today is that too many producers ‘hurry’ to make their wines: they hurry the fruit in the vineyard and they hurry the vinification and rush to bottle. They rush to sell their product without allowing it the proper time to age. Patience – this is the most important attribute in winemaking. Patience in growing, patience in selection, and patience in vinification.” One can taste the patience that is given to each wine with each sip taken.
Quintarelli wines, especially the Amarone and dessert wines do not come cheap. However he makes two wines that allow wine lovers to enjoy his talents at a very reasonable price. Jim began the evening with both of them.
1999 Quintarelli Primofiore. Primofiore (first flower) is the only red wine at Quintarelli that does not employ dried grapes or the ripasso technique. It is also the youngest red wine released by the estate every year. The wine is a blend of 50% Corvina and Corvinone, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. After harvest, the grapes are left in wooden boxes to continue ripening, then after pressing and fermentation, the wine is aged for several years in Slavonian oak barrels. While tonight’s wine is getting on in age, it still showed wonderful fruit and complexity. $60. Wine-Searcher.
From the Veneto we traveled south to the Campania region and two wines from Feudi di San Gregorio. The estate is located in Sorbo Serpico, a commune in the province of Avellino. Under the winemaking of renowned winemaker Riccardo Cotarella, the more stylistically modern wines have a tremendous following
2001 Feudi di San Gregorio Serpico Irpina. The wine is made from 100% Aglianico, the indigenous red grape of the area. Fermentation and maceration take place in stainless steel tanks for about 3-4 weeks before spending a minimum 18 months in small barrique barrels. The wines are then aged for a minimum 12 months in bottle before being released. I was pleasantly surprised with how well the oak was integrated into the wine, which had a soft palate, nice fruit but little depth and a short finish. $73. Wine-Searcher.
We completed our journey in Abruzzo a region of Southern Italy about 50 miles east of Rome along the Adriatic Sea), with a bottle 2000 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Made from 100% Monepulciano grapes it was the consensus wine of the night. Full of terroir and a bit of funk that is the hallmark of Pepe’s attention to old world style wine making. The wine kept evolving with each sip and finished with amazing length and focus. This is a wine built to last for decades. $145. Wine-Searcher.