March 12: The Masterclass of Italian Wines organised on March 3 by Il Dolce Vino for members of Italics Wine Club, added a lot of colour with wines from food and wine specialist companies- Bernelli, Borgofulvia, Essentia and a relatively new family estate in Lipari island in Sicily, Tenuta di Castellaro, matched with the equally delicious cuisine at the Diva Restaurant at the Italian Embassy, writes Cav. Subhash Arora who conducted the Masterclass with Luca Bernardini from Indo- Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Photos By:: Adil Arora
The venue-outside the Diva Restaurant run under the aegis of Cultural Center of the Italian Embassy, wore a festive atmosphere especially because Delhi Wine Club, now into its 20th year (2002-2022) had opened its doors to the members to encourage them to also join the Italics Wine Club formed by Angels of Italian Wines. In India 5 years ago to promote Italian gastronomy to the Indian palates.
As he informed the guests, Cav. Subhash Arora had selected for this Masterclass with Alfresco dinner, 3 wines from big companies that specialise in Italian food, wines and spirits sourced from various corners of Italy selecting wines from small producers: Bernelli, Borgofulvia, Essentia and a relatively new Estate in Lipari island in Sicily, Tenuta di Castellaro. The wines were paired with the equally delicious cuisine from Diva, the Italian Restaurant at the Italian Embassy in India, curated by Chef Ankur Kohli.
Diva Restaurant at the Italian Embassy, run by Ritu Dalmia since its inception, has long established itself as a perfect location for authentic Italian cuisine for selected members of the Cultural Center. But today it went a step further with Alfresco dining outside the restaurant, at the dining area surrounded all around by greenery, with the perfect weather welcoming the guests.
The members of Italics Wine Club and Delhi Wine Club were welcome with Brinelli Mastero DOC Veneto Extra Dry produced in Veneto and as Arora clarified, the Emilia -Romagna company can sell in its own label. Cantine Quattro Valli has specially labelled this Mastero DOC Extra Dry wine (with over 12 gms. residual sugar per liter), making it a bit sweet on the palate for some but very fruity and pleasant on the mid palate for all and a good match with Burrata salad.
Ravioli papa al Pomodoro was an excellent match with the fruity Borgofulvia Spumante Rosato Brut Terre Siciliane IGT with strawberries in the fore and lively bubbles dancing on the palate. It was not very dry; pleasantly sweet for most palates. The persistent and elegant perlage and delicate floral notes with intense flavour of rose petals made it an attractive wine. As Luca Bernardini pointed out, it sells for around €4 in Italy and would make an excellent product for the high-duty inflicted Indian market.
Different Pizzas with two wines
A variety of pizzas were served at the table with two wines- Tenuta di Castellaro Bianco Pomice Terre Siciliane IGT and Essentia Braude Nero di Troia IGP Puglia 2018, the former a white elegant and complex wine which has to be one of the best and unique Italian white wines I have tasted. Reason was not far to see. Lipari, the largest island in the Archipelago northwest of Messina, the entry point to Sicily by train from the mainland, is one of the more beautiful places in Italy not yet frequented by international tourists, making it ideal for those looking for nature as a sojourn. The UNESCO Heritage site may not remain so quiet with an increasing number of tourists who can also stay at its agriturismo near the winery.
Lipari is globally known for its dessert wine made from Malvasia di Lipari, perhaps the most ancient grape of Italy (60%) blended with Carricante (40%), the local grape of Sicily celebrated in the volcanic Etna region because of its outstanding minerality.
The soil is full of pumice thanks to the Volcanic soil where the lava spumed it under pressure centuries ago. This is also one of the most beautiful areas in Southern Italy and offers wine tourism as well, with ferries travelling from Messina to this biggest island, one of the seven in the Archipelago in Aeolian Sea. This wine, served chilled, was an excellent match with both the Margherita and Quattro Stagioni pizzas, served generously. The wine with Carricante fermented in used oak barrels, and aged for 6 months, is complex and can age for 5-8 years, making it a unique, and very interesting wine, slightly salty in taste.
Those who ordered Pepperoni pizzas were very pleased with the accompanying Essentia Braude Nero di Troia IGP Puglia 2018 which synergised with the meaty pepperoni layer of the pizza, a specialty at the restaurant.
The Main course was a test for the food and wine match. Essentia Barude Nero di Troia IGP Puglia 2018 is a dry red wine made 100 % from the local Troia grapes generally attributed to Greece, Asia Minor or even Albania as its origin. Grown in the northern part of Puglia, the wine was a medium bodied, juicy wine with sour red cherries and blackberries on the nose and full mouthfeel with slightly high acidity. The tannins were elegant with the wine being juicy, homogenous and of medium length.
Being a Pescatarian, I ordered Aqua Pazza. This Italian styled-slow poached fish with tomatoes, capers, olives and fennels with a dash of sprinkled olive oil, was fresh and delicious (garlic bread would have made it even more mouth-watering) with good texture and appearance.
Unfortunately, it did not pair well with Nero di Troia. I wished then that I had tasted it with the white wine, Bianco Pomice which would have paired better. But Melanzane Parmigiana (Aubergine with Parmesan) could have been a better choice for vegetarians for Nero di Troia. To try and experiment with it, I requested the Restaurant Manager and saw Chef Ankur Kohli quickly rustle up a dish in that genre; it was orgasmic with the Troia- a perfect match.
Mango & Passion fruit mousse with fresh berry tart and raspberry ice- cream was a good choice for a grand finale for the Al fresco evening, with a cup of Macchiato bringing in the crescendo.
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A vote for the best wine of the evening, had most takers for the Bianco Pomice with Nero di Troia a close second. A majority of the guests also loved the Rose Spumante which would find many takers in India because of its affordable price. Prosecco is always a staple choice for the starter and it did a good job. But, everyone agreed in unison that it was an experiential evening they would love to attend again next month.
I would say Jai Ho and Salute to the evening.
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