Monday, June 14, 2010

Wining and teaching at La Bruschetta...

After having an amazingly busy and wine-y week and weekend, I took a step back to consider what I'm trying to accomplish with this blog, and it kind of stopped me in my tracks. But just for a few days!

I had seen that my friend, Rico Mandel, was advertising a luncheon at La Bruschetta Restaurant.  There would be cooking instruction, plus wines from some yet-to-be-named winery, plus a surprise dessert - very similar to previous luncheons he had organized at other terrific restaurants. Because he had not named the winery, I had not signed us up, and then he emailed me and asked if I would handle the wine tasting for the event.

After a few emails and phone calls, I realized that he was going to leave it all up to me to choose the wines to taste and drink with lunch.  I was thrilled - and a little terrified.

Luckily, JD and I had just met Jeff Zimmitti of the Rosso Wine Shop in Glendale a couple of weeks before, and knew that Jeff had a great selection of well-priced Italian wines. As I'm just learning about Italian wines, this seemed like a great opportunity to increase my knowledge base while entertaining the guests at La Bruschetta.

I did a bit of reconnaissance online and at the store, and met with Jeff to discuss what wines would work for a hearty Italian lunch. I wanted to start with something light like a Prosecco as a welcome wine, and then have a 3-wine flight to teach about, finishing with a tasty red to accompany lunch and dessert. Not knowing what was going to be served added to the challenge, but we were up to it. I picked the following wines:

Collalbrigo Brut Prosecco Ti Amo NV $12.99 - Wonderful richness; complexity and depth; built around a core of spicy black cherry and raspberry fruit; pleasant hazelnut and cherry flavors last through the finish.

2007 Cantina Corbera Chardonnay Sicily $9.99 - Cantina Corbera is a co-operative winery in western Sicily. This is a perfect everyday drinker Chardonnay with no oak, malolactic or other clever cellar techniques used here, just cool fermentation in stainless steel tanks and early bottling. Crisp, smooth and pure fruit. Winner.

2008 Tenuta Sant'Antonio Scaia Rosso Veneto $12.99 - An early-drinking Venetian wine made with 100% Corvina. Fermented only in stainless steel to keep its freshness, this fragrant, vinous wine has terrific balance, fruit and really delivers in the quality department. A unique wine and a great value.

2006 Cantina Fratelli Pardi Montefalco Rosso $12.99 - Sangiovese 70% - Sagrantino 15% - Merlot & Cabernet 15% - Alcoholic and malolactic fermentation in stainless steel. In oak barrels for 12 months and in steel for 6 months. In bottle for 4 months. Pair with risotti, tagliatelle, ravioli, or cooked red meats. Fruit forward, cherry in first slowly, but also flowers and a light herbaceous note. In mouth it has a vibrating acidity.

2007 Vallevó Montepulciano d'Abruzzo $9.99 - 100% Montepulciano. Aromas and flavors of black plum, black cherry, herbs, and black olives surround a wonderful meaty texture, with enough chewiness to make the wine stand up to food. This is the ideal 'spaghetti red,' at a price that will bring a smile to your face every time you open a bottle.

JD and I served the Prosecco as the guests arrived, and when we had all assembled in the kitchen, Chef Angelo and his assistant, Roberto, showed us how to make gnocchi al pesto, arugula and endive salad with buratta cheese, prosciutto, garnished with roasted yellow and red peppers, and a veal and tuna sauce appetizer that we were all anxious to try.
After the cooking demonstration, we gathered around the dining table, and I went thru the wines.  Great guests - they asked lots of questions, and loved the wines.  Then the food was served.  OMG!!  Heaven on a plate!

Just to finish things off with a bang, Rico introduced Chef Ameera, a lovely young woman who proceeded to make tiramisu - right in front of us! Well, of course, we finished off the wine with the tiramisu. Another round of OMG's! Everyone was full and happy and ready for a nap!

What a wonderful luncheon! I want to do another - soon!


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