2008 Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival – Piemonte to Puglia Wine Dinner

02292008.gifI just got home from my last event for this year’s Vancouver Wine Festival, the Piemonte to Puglia Wine Dinner at Quattro on 4th. It was a great event – the highlight of which, for me personally, was sitting at the main table with the Italians around whose wines the dinner was based. There was Saverio Notari, the winemaker from Compagnia del Vino (whose tasty Prosecco was poured as we walked in the door), Francesco Domini, the General Manager from Tormaresca and Emanuele Baldi, the marketing manager from Piemonte’s Prunotto.

I won’t get too into the food (which was great), but I’ll let you in on the wines that were poured. First up, as I’ve already mentioned, was Saverio’s 2006 Col de’ Salici Prosecco di Valdobbiadene DOC. I love Prosecco and this is a great example of why I feel that way. It was fresh, citrusy and had zippy acidity. It’s a great way to start the night. Find it and drink it. 4 stars.

Next up was Francesco’s 2006 Tormaresca Chardonnay IGT. This one caught me off guard… in a good way. Seeing as the wine is from Southern Italy, I was expecting a flabby, mouth-filling and non-descript Chardonnay. This was SO the opposite. It had racy acidity and crisp citrus and mineral flavours that made it the perfect pairing for the first course of Tuna Carpaccio with parmigiano reggiano coated buffalo mozzarella with Antinori Olive Oil. 4 stars.

One of the better food/wine pairings in my recent memory was the next course of freshly made ravioli filled with wild mushrooms, marscapone cheese and white truffle oil in a light porcini cream paired with the 2001 Prunotto Costamiole Barbera D’Asti DOC. It was cool to hear Emanuele describe the wine and to hear him compare the Barbera d’Asti (he drew the voluptuous figure of a woman in the air with his hands and said “Sofia Loren”) to Barbera d’Alba, which he described a more of a “snob’s wine”. The wine was beautiful… lots of dark cherry fruit with the earthy minerality. 4 – 4.5 stars.

I thought the ravioli/Barbera was a fantastic food match… then we hit the next course. The venison rack stuffed with morel mushrooms and dried blueberry duxelle finished with Barolo succo (no idea what that is, but it tasted great) was phenomenal with the 2001 Prunotto Bussia Barolo DOGC and the 2004 Tormaresca Masseria Maime. In my eyes, the Pronotto Bussia Barolo (at $90 and 94 points from the Wine Dictator) was the wine of the night. It kicked culinary ass and did it with flair. Its flavours were a magical mix of cracked pepper, cherry and a gorgeous floral edge. The finish went on for as long as I could hold off on taking another sip. The Tormaresca Masseria Maime Negroamaro was also fantastic (especially for the price of $39) with its inky dark flavours of blackberry, licorice and bitter chocolate. I’d buy both. 4.5 – 5 for the Barolo and 4.5 for the Negroamaro.

OK… we’re almost done here. Next up was a selection of cheeses served with the 2001 Prunotto Bric Turot Barbaresco DOCG. I didn’t get a price on this one, but if you have to ask… It’s a powerhouse that tastes like it needs another 10 years before it would be a mouth-friendly bit of juice. It was complex, with cherry and a bit of tar, but it didn’t open up much beyond that. This needs time, folks… lots of time. If you can afford it, can find it and have the patience to sit it down for years you’ll be rewarded, I’m sure. 4.5 stars.

We finished up the night with a delicious honey semifreddo with vanilla crisps and an Anjou pear reduction and a big glass of refreshing 2007 Prunotto Moscato d’Asti DOGC. The apricot sweetness of the Moscato made it a great match for the semifreddo… yum. 3.5 – 4 stars.

I’ll work with Graham to get our take on the rest of the events in the next few days. Cheers.