"All four elements were happening in equal measure - the cuisine, the wine, the service, and the overall ambiance. It taught me that dining could happen at a spiritual level." Charlie Trotter
I was excited about attending this event and saw it as an opportunity to discover the answer to one of life's great questions: "What wines do sommeliers drink when they go out for dinner?" Okay, it is not up there with the meaning of life, the universe and everything, but I was curious to see what wines would be served and how they would be paired with the foods.
As we exited the super strada, the rain stopped and ahead of us, on a hill sat the villa Marchese del Grillo crowned by the sun's rays. Walking from the parking lot, I could see the front of the villa graced by an expansive veranda. There, on the veranda, the tables were set with four wine glasses at each place setting leaving no doubt that this was a dinner for wine lovers.
Up first, hors d'ourves and a Peruzzi Brut methodo classico, dosage zero. The Peruzzi family has been producing sparkling wine in Le Marche from the Verdicchio grape since 1988, and biological wines since 2002. The Peruzzi Brut is a limited production organic wine with approximately 5,000 bottles made per year. It is bottle aged for a minimum of 3 years. This wine is made without the liqueur d'exposition (the added sugar after the disgorgement). In the glass, the color is a pale yellow and the perlage is happy. This was an interesting organic wine that did not have the typical nose and palate of a verdicchio. For me, it was lacking the almond and honey sweetness and was more dry with a more spare palate. I have decided that one day soon I will go to visit the winery to try this again as I had mixed feelings about the wine.
The primi was a beautiful pasta with a sauce of goose accompanied by Vallerosa-Bonci's San Michele, 2012, a Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, D.O.C. Superiore. San Michele is a single vineyard wine from the San Michele area of the Jesi D.O.C. which sits about 400 meters above sea level. In the glass the wine had a deeper golden hue than many verdicchio wines. I found this wine to be very interesting as it went through a transformation the longer it sat in the glass. We think of red wines as needing to breathe, but this white wine from the verdicchio grape, only got better over time in the glass. The nose started out very floral with the scent of acacia dominating other sweet aromas like peach and a little anise. But after the wine sat for a while, the mineral notes came through more strongly and it smelled of the sea. In the mouth the wine, was soft, but carried a depth atypical of many verdicchio wines. It made me think of California wines but without the heavy oak flavor.
Next, for the secondo, slices of veal with small dollops of pureed carrots and zucchini on the side served with a Rosso Conero Riserva D.O.C.G., the Strologo Decebalo, 2008. The Strologo winery is a small family run winery started by a farming family in the 1960s. They make approximately 3,000 bottles of Decebalo per year. This is a wine made from the Montepulciano grape that has been aged in new French barriques for 12 months followed by an additional 12 months in the bottle prior to release. In the glass, the Decebalo was a deep red with purple hues. The nose was intense and complex with cherry, vanilla, cinnamon, and a pale scent of liquorice. In the mouth it is soft and warm and flavorful. Normally, I am not a red wine drinker, but I did taste this one and thought it would be nice to drink red wine again.
And, finally, for the dessert lover in me, there was a fruit torta with orange and apricot cream served with the Moncaro's, Tordiruta, 2008. Tordiruta is a passito made from 100% Verdicchio grapes, aged one year in barrique and one year in the bottle. Tordiruta is just what I expect from a passito. It is amber in color with an intensely warm and mature bouquet of candied fruits and spice. In the mouth it is soft and mellow with just the right degree of sweetness. Well, I had to have a second glass of this one.
Finally, the graduation ceremony, complete with a commencement speaker, concluded; photos were taken; and the class began to disperse. (Of note, Jim says this was the best graduation ceremony he has ever attended. I guess I would have to agree with him. After all, it was the first I have ever attended where not only was wine served, but it was a focus of the event.) But before Jim and I depart, we have been invited to tour the Marchese del Grillo's renowned wine cellar with Cristina and Massimiliano. The beautiful vaulted cellar housed an amazing collection of wines some dating from the 19th century. I tried to take some photos, but with the exception of the one below, they all look like they were taken by someone who had a little too much wine. Hum, I can't imagine how that happened.
The Peruzzi Website: http://www.spumantebio-peruzzi.it/
The Colonnara Website: http://www.colonnara.it/en/
The Vallerosa Bonci Website: http://www.vallerosa-bonci.com/
The Silvano Strologo website: http://www.vinorossoconero.com/
The Moncaro website: http://www.moncaro.com/en/