Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Most Seasonal Dinner Club

For the second year running, our little Dinner Club gang has arranged to go with a holiday season dinner.  I guess last year's turkey confit was enough of a serve that everyone wasn't scared off by another Christmas dinner.  This year's feast falls to Lady Di and She Who Must Be Obeyed and, rather than stuff another turkey to throw our way, they decided to stuff us à la your fictional Italian grandmother instead.

As usual, there are so many wines and culinary treats involved that I won't be able to do justice to either.  I can start by saying that I'm not saying that we all must be getting older, but every one of us left overly stuffed and we didn't come close to finishing off all the wine.  There were at least two bottles that weren't even opened.  It wasn't all that long ago that such a finish to the evening wouldn't have been fathomable - well, at least not unopened wine bottles.

1309.  N.V. Emotivo Prosecco (Prosecco D.O.C. - Italy)

I've got to love the fact that, every time I turn around, there seems to be a new Prosecco appearing on the local shelves.  Since all the Proseccos I run across are non-vintage, I only get to add an individual brand label once to The List - even if the same bottles are starting to show up more regularly at friends' places.  This is a first time for the Emotivo and it was served up with the girls' selection of crostini - Sherry Marinated Sardines, Sweet Pea Pesto and Olive Tapenade.

I can't say that this is my favourite Prosecco.  I prefer a touch of sweet on this type of wine and this one was pretty much bone dry.  I think it matched nicely with the sardine but I think I'd add some Aperol and turn it into a Spritz if I were to run across it again.

1310.  2010 Azienda Vitivinicola Marianna - Dedicato a Marianna - Greco di Tufo (Greco di Tufo DOCG - Campania - Italy) 

The ladies delivered Stracciatella soup as Il Primo and it was served up with our only still white wine of the evening.  The Marianna wine hails from the town of Irpinia, found at the base of the Apennine Mountains in the Campania region of Italy, not far from Naples.  Greco di Tufo isn't the most commonly found varietal on local shelves; so, kudos to the ladies for finding an interesting match for their tasty soup.

I have to give props to Lady Di for religiously checking the blog before she picks up wines to serve when she knows that I'm coming over.  But, I'm going to praise her even more for making a homemade pasta course of Butternut Squash Ravioli with a Mushroom Ragout and Shaved Black Truffle.  I've never tried making pasta myself and I'm not so sure that I ever will when it's so easy to pick up freshly made pasta in our neighbourhood.  But, I'm ever so willing to chow down on someone else's efforts - especially when laden with mushrooms, a personal fave.

By the time the pasta was before us, we'd dived, full bore, into the first of the reds - and started with a threesome of lighter wines that were full Sangiovese wines or blends that prominently featured the Sangiovese varietal.

1311.  2008 Grifone Riserva (Chianti DOCG - Tuscany - Italy)

1312.  2005 Consorzio Produttori Vini di Velletri - Terre dei Volsci Riserva (Velletri D.O.P. - Lazio/Latium - Italy)

I'm not sure which of the Dinner Club members brought the Velletri but I'm thanking them for the early Christmas present.  It's a blend of Merlot, Sangiovese, Cesanese d'Affile and Montepulciano - and I haven't added the Cesanese grape to my Wine Century Club varietal tally yet.  Merry Merry to me.

1313.  2009 Vigne a Porrona - Montecucco Sangiovese (Montecucco D.O.C. - Tuscany - Italy)

After a bit of a break on the feast, it was time to move on to a little more bombast - both on the plate and in the glass.

1314.  1992 Renato Ratti - Rocche Marcenasco Barolo (Barolo DOCG - Piedmont - Italy)

If there was a "star" wine for the evening, it had to be this one.  Tyrant heard that we were in for the Italian theme and he figured there had to be something in that cellar of his that would befit the occasion.  He managed to find a little old Barolo that he thought might be suitable.  He was clear to say that he couldn't guarantee the provenance of the 20 year old wine but we were all highly anticipating the opportunity to try a bottle that only Tyrant likely could have delivered.  Admittedly, there was some concern when the cork started to disintegrate before it was halfway out of the bottle but, luckily, the wine itself was fully intact.

Tyrant is likely the only member of the Dinner Club that has the ability to regularly open older vintage wines like this.  Accordingly, the subtleties of the ageing and the layers of notes that are more characteristic of older wines might have been lost somewhat on palates more attuned to modern fruit forward wines but we were all grateful for Tyrant's largesse.

The Barolo was saved for the girls' main course of Osso Buco with Asiago Garlic Polenta and it was poured along with a couple other heavy hitters.

1315.  2006 La Spinetta - Langhe Nebbiolo (Langhe Nebbiolo D.O.C. - Piedmont - Italy)

1316.  2007 Tenuta De Angelis - Anghelos (Marche Rosso IGT - Italy)

Funnily enough, even Tyrant proclaimed that the La Spinetta might have been his favourite wine of the evening.  A simpler version of the Barolo, the Langhe Nebbiolo is made from the same grape in the same Italian province but the vines are younger and the ageing process is much shorter as this wine is released 16 months after harvest instead of four years later like with the Barolo.  Boo and I were lucky enough to visit the La Spinetta winery back in 2008.  We weren't able to bring home nearly as many wines as we would have like to; so, we're happy to run across opportunities to find and enjoy the occasional drop of Spinetta's typically high end wines.

The Anghelos was no slouch of a wine either.  A blend of Cab Sauv, Montelpulciano and Sangiovese, the wine hails from Marche and was called a "velvety bombshell...(from) on the back-of-the-knee of Italy's boot" when Vancouver Magazine named it as 2011's Top Red Wine in its annual Wine Awards.

Not a bad collection of wines for the evening, I'd say.

I'm not exactly sure why but I note that we didn't have any pictures Lady Di's Il Dolce course.  The lack of pics must have been that there weren't any new wines served up because it sure wasn't because of the dessert itself.  The duo of Meyers Lemon Panna Cotta and Chocolate Barrolla Crème Cup were delicious and over the top.  Stuffed or not, I could have kept eating that Panna Cotta until Christmas had come and gone.

Ultimately, the evening, like all good things, needed to come to an end.  We waddled out into the night, all a-twinkle with Christmas lights, and bid "Buon Natale" to our hostesses and Dinner Club buds.  The next dinner date isn't scheduled until May and Boo and I are up.  That gives us some months to come up with a menu and to lose some of the pounds that we put on tonight.  Something tells me that I'm going to have to play the "I think it's time to pull things back a bit again" card.  Lord knows I don't want to have to try and top tonight's trip to Little Italy.  But, on that happy note, it's time to get some more of my own seasonal preparations into gear.

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