Thursday, March 7, 2013

Report from ... Lunch with Contessa Massimilla di Serego Alighieri - February 20, 2013

Today's wine selections - more in depth reviews below

It's not everyday when you get to sit down to lunch with royalty, wine royalty that is, as Contessa Massimilla di Serego Alighieri came to town for a visit, to speak about her family, their partnership with Masi and cherry barrels ... oh, and we tried some really great wines too.

Why Royalty ...
In the wineries own words:  "In 1353 the son of the famous poet, Dante Alighieri, bought lands with a villa in the hills of Verona, a property that still belongs to the descendants of the author of the Divine Comedy today".

Masi 2011 Modello delle Venezie Bianco (*** 1/2+)
Starter Wine ...
This 85% Pinot Grigio is obviously a Masi product, showing that these two brands are interconnected with a partnership that has lasted more than 30 years.  40% of the Pinot Grigio that goes into this wine is aged in barrel for three months just to give it more mouthfeel that your usual Pinot Grigio: apple blossom with hints of vanilla, on the palate it's crisp with peach, floral and pretty citrus notes a bargain at $10.95 (*** 1/2+)

Serego Alighieri 2010 Possessioni Rosso (****+)
Best Value ...
This is the beverage you'll serve and people will think you spent a fortune on the dinner wines, as one winemaker once told me about his wines, "this wine punches well above it's class" ... and this one surely does - and it has a story to tell.  The make up of grapes is 70% Corvina and 14% Molinara - so it has the pedigree of being a Valpolicella (because it comes from Veneto), but there is 16% Sangiovese, which is too much of this grape to be allowed the Valpolicella designation.  Also interesting to note that the Molinara is the Serego Alighieri clone from original 1875 cutting - of which there were only 7 or 8 plants).  Another thing that makes the Serego wines unique is the cherry wood aging - this one sees 3 months.  Nose is cherry, blackberry and spiced-violets, while on the palate there's white pepper, black cherry, blueberry, blackberry with a nice spiced finsh.  The wine is well-balnced and juicy, but with good acidity to keep it fresh and a lovely cherry finish.  This is a good all-purpose wine ready for pulling the cork now but will age gracefully over the next 5-8 years.  And all that for a mere $15.00 - #447326  (****+)

2009 Valpolicella dell'Anniversrio
The Anniversary Wine ...
This wine was first produced to celebrate the 650 years the family has been in the Veneto area ... and so they painstakingly went about to craft a wine to honour just such an occasion, and it was four years in the making.  The first release of the wine was from the 1999 vintage, launched on the 650th anniversary in 2003 with 3000 magnums ... now they bottle the wine in smaller 750ml bottles.  25% of the grapes are semi-dried for 1 month losing 15% of their water content; 75% of the grapes are fresh and they use the double ferment method made famous by their partner Masi.  The blend is mainly Corvina, then comes Rondinella and 10% of the Molinara - Serego clone.  The oak treatment of this wine is fairly interesting to note.  First the wine sees Slavonian oak for 18 months, then four more months in 600L cherry wood barrels, so as not to impart too much extra flavour to the wine.  After bottling it spends a further six months in its new glass home to mellow before release.  The result is a wine with a nose of cherry, plum, chocolate and vanilla bean; the palate follows the nose almost to a tee while adding a beauty of a spice note from mid-palate all the way to the finish (****+)

2005 Vaio Armaron Classico (**** 1/2)
Amarone ...
It is not a spelling error, the vineyard is Vaio Armaron, and it is surmised the ancient vineyard is the root word of the now famous wine, Amarone.  It was here that the cherry wood barrels really came into play ... there is no more aging in cherry wood then the previous wine and according to the Contessa  they never age more than 4 months in cherry because it is very porous and imparts a lot of flavour to the wine.  Interesting to note that Serego is the only winery using cherry wood regularly:  it's 4 times more expensive than oak, has a third the life span of oak (maximum 5 years), and it "drinks a lot" of the wine in (meaning the barrels need constant day-by-day topping up).  The Armaron is aged 3 years in Slavonian oak then 4 months in cherry casks.  The nose is smoked cherry, chocolate and plum; palate is cherry, smoked wood and dark bittersweet chocolate - the wine is robust, supple and sexy and should age a good long time (**** 1/2)

What's for Lunch ... 
Bravi Restaurant - (40 Wellington Street West, Toronto)

Romaine Hearts
Sundried Tomatoes, Parmigiano, Mustard and Garlic Vinaigrette

Piling the cheese high on the ...

Tagliatelle Bolognese
Bolognese Style Ragu of Beef and Veal, Shaved Parmigiano

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