Saturday, December 14, 2013

A C&C Christmas

In what's become a bit of a tradition, the gang from work gathered for a holiday dinner party at Ciao Bello for some laughs and many a plea for everyone to "Mangia. Mangia."

It's always a bit of a surprise to find out what wines The Boss has picked for the night. I made the wine arrangements for a couple of years but Boss has taken a bit of a shine to wandering the aisles at the liquor store to come up with an array of wines - particularly when he thinks that he has some choices that will surprise me a bit. I totally appreciate the fact that he checks the blog before making a purchase so that I get the chance to add some new bottles to The List - as well as join in with the troops.

1485.  2012 Masi Masianco (Pinot Grigio e Verduzzo delle Venezie IGT - Italy)

I cottoned onto one of the whites The Boss picked - forgetting that I'd bought a bottle for home myself - because I saw that it was a blend featuring the Verduzzo grape. Since Verduzzo Friulano is definitely a new grape for my Wine Century Club tally, I'm not going to care that I could have zeroed in on a different white and saved this one for quaffing at home. When it comes to increasing my grape variety tally, sooner is always better.

Masi has been making the Masianco blend for a decade now and they refer to it as their white "Supervenetian" and a counterpart to Masi's well known red "Supervenetian" wine, Campofiorin. I gather it is the blending of these two grapes that takes this wine out of the more historically approved D.O.C. wines and into IGT territory. I understand that the wine does very well for Masi and I guess that this might just go to show that innovation can have its place even among regions caught up in centuries' worth of tradition.

Another different aspect in the production of Masianco is that the Verduzzo grapes (which make up about a quarter of the wine) undergo some additional drying out - the "appassimento" method - to enhance and concentrate the body, flavours and aromas. This approach doesn't appear to be unique to Masi as the grape is also used by regional producers to make a sweeter dessert wine. An alternative method that leads to a similar result is that the grape's growers will leave the bunches hanging on the vine to bring in for a late harvest wine. There are, apparently, some wineries making straight, dry varietal wines with Verduzzo but I don't think many of them travel much. Jancis Robinson's "Wine Grapes" states that the grape is grown primarily in North-East Italy (with a couple small pockets in Slovenia and one producer in Australia) but that overall plantings are gradually declining.

Good thing I'm adding it to my tally now.

Unfortunately, our dinner group was missing a few of our bigger personalities this year. As such, there was no Bollywood-style bhangra or dancing on the tables. In fact, there was no dancing at all. Just plenty of eating and drinking and moving from table to table in between courses.

Some of our colleagues were a little more adventurous than they might usually be with their drinks over the evening. So, I introduced a handful of them to dirty martinis, to the joy that is Prosecco and a couple braver souls to a Prosecco Spritzer when I saw a bottle of Aperol at the bar. It's getting to be common enough now to find Aperol in Vancouver bars and restaurants. Hard to believe that it was only five years ago that Boo and I came home from Venice and couldn't find a bottle anywhere in the city.

Despite making suggestions to other folks, I was good and stuck to wine though.

1486.  2010 Emilio Moro Bodegas - Finca Resalso (Ribera del Duero - Spain)

The second bottle being added to The List saw The Boss veer a bit away from his almost "all-Italian" selection for the evening - by adding in a Spanish wine that I hadn't run across before. He said that he wanted to grab it because it's supposedly a rare find in Vancouver. The wine is apparently the entry level wine for Emilio Moro Bodegas and it's made from 100% Tinto Fino (another name for Tempranillo) in the Ribera del Duero region. The wine is named for the Finca Resalso vineyard that has been in production since 1933; however, the grapes for this wine are from the vineyard's youngest vines - being between 5 and 15 years of age.

The Moro family itself has been involved in the winemaking business in Ribera del Duero for three generations now but they've only been releasing their wines under this brand since 1982.

I'm not sure that our Italian server was impressed much by a Spanish wine on the table but I think this was probably my fave for the night. Bigger and fruitier than many of the entry level Tempranillos I tend to run across, maybe the Italians should be a little worried.

1487.  2011 Barone Ricasoli - Campo Ceni (Toscana IGT - Italy) 

I was intrigued to see that The Boss brought along a Ricasoli wine as well since Boo and I had opened a bottle not too long ago. This was more of an entry level wine though. I'd grabbed a higher end bottle from (if memory serves) the Vancouver International Wine Festival and it was way bigger than this one.

Don't be fooled by the fact that I took a picture of the bottle with my tiramisu. I'd been drinking the wine earlier in the evening and I'd just forgotten to take a picture for the blog. I wouldn't exactly recommend the Campo Ceni with tiramisu though. It wasn't the worse combination ever but I think you could easily come up with a better pairing. Like the coffee I was now sipping on.

The Super Tuscan - Sangiovese, Merlot and Cab Sauv blend - didn't go over incredibly well at our table. People tended to gravitate to other options. I didn't mind it myself but entry level Sangiovese isn't generally my first wine of choice.

I think The Boss had a much bigger list of wines but I just didn't get around to checking out the others. Boo had experienced a tough day at work and he asked that we head out a little earlier than I might have usually. I likely would have been able to add another bottle to The List but sometimes a clear head in the morning is worth that lost bottle.

Besides I'd already received my early Christmas present by being able to add grape #166 to my Wine Century Club tally. The rest of the evening was all bonus.

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