Dining with Bacchus

An invitation to dine with Bacchus doesn’t come every day, so I was happy to accept the intriguing invitation from the Italian Trade Agency to a dinner and wine tasting at the Hotel Renaissance in NYC.

IMG_8741We were greeted with a glass of Rotari Brut when we entered.

The Italian Trade Commissioner, Antonio Laspina, welcomed guests and spoke about Italian wine and the evening’s event. He explained that the Italian Trade Agency, along with Colangelo & Partners, had organized a series of “Dining with Bacchus” dinners and tastings around the country and this was the final one.Their goal was to promote both traditional Italian food and wine combinations and at the same time educate US wine industry professionals on Italian wine pairing opportunities with diverse cuisines. The idea, Mr. Laspina explained, was to both embrace yet debunk the concept that “what grows together, goes together.”

IMG_8736Chef Fabrizio Facchini prepared dishes to go with each wine and spoke about them.  It was set up like a dinner with Antipasti, Primi, Secondi, and Dolci. Anthony Giglio was the master of ceremonies and spoke about the wine and added comments on the food and wine combinations. It was a very large group and Mr. Giglio did an job excellent with his sense of humor and knowledge of Italian wine

IMG_8738Trento DOC Brut 2015 Rotari (Trent) made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  The lots are married together with 5-7% of Chardonnay fermented in oak with partial malolactic fermentation.  Once the cuvée is made, the wine is cold stabilized, filtered and ready for the second fermentation. Secondary fermentation is maintained at a critically controlled temperature of approximately 53-56°F. First the filtered wine is chilled to 53°F and then chilled yeast is added to make sure a slow fermentation is maintained from the outset. This approach guarantees that the fermentation lasts for at least 40 days so that it develops the fine perlage found in Rotari. The wine rests on the lees for more than 24 months at a temperature of between 56–58°F. During the aging process there is a routine remuage utilizing giro-palettes. Following the aging in the bottle, there is disgorgement and addition of the proprietary dosage. The dosage is comprised of Chardonnay from the same vintage matured in neutral oak barrels which provides the wine with greater aromas without oak impact. The wine has hints of peach, citrus fruit, white stone fruit and a touch of brioche.


IMG_8746Prosecco Rosé DOC 2020  Riondo vintage dated sparkling wine (Veneto). Made from 90% Glera and 10% Pinot Noir. The residual sugar is 16 g/l. There is a cold fermentation of the grapes and the primary fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature followed by a secondary fermentation in stainless steel pressurized tanks for two months. The wine has hints of roses, violets, and raspberry with a note of apple and a touch of peach. Served with chicken wings roasted and glazed with a mild sauce.

IIMG_8742Isonzo Del Friuli DOC 2018 made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc Sant’Elena (Friuli-Venezia-Giulia). The wine has notes of kiwi, melon, lemon and a note of almonds with a long finish. Caesar salad topped with croutons and anchovies

Umbria IGT White Grechetto 2021 (Umbria) made from 100% Grechetto Barberani from a 5 hectare vineyard at 200/300 meters. The soil is sedimentary with the presence of marine fossils, pebbles and calcareous agglomerations. There are 4,500 plants per hectare, the training system is double guyot and the vines are 30 years old. The manual  harvest is  August/ September. Light lemon finish with hints of citrus fruit, apples a touch of spice and a note of almonds. Insalata Di Mare with squid, octopus, shrimp, mussels, celery & mesclun

IMG_8750Nebbiolo Langhe DOC 2020 “Margie” Damilano (Piedmont) made from 100% Nebbiolo from an 18 hectare vineyard at 1,500 ft with a southeastern /southern exposure.  Calcareous and tufa based soil, the training system is guyot and the vines are about 40 years old. Harvest is in October and fermentation is in stainless steel tanks for 12 days. The wine is aged  in 20hl to 100hl oak barrels for 12 months and for 2 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red fruit, violets, cherry with a touch of licorice and a note of violets. Affettati — 24 month prosciutto di Parma DOP, speck Alto Adige IGP

IMG_8751Chianti Classico DOCG 2021 Castellare di Castellina (Tuscany) made from 95% Sangiovese and  5% Canaiolo from vineyards at 350/400 meters. Limestone soil and the training system is guyot single arched cane. There are 3,500 plants per hectare. Harvest is in October. Vinification is in steel and malolactic fermentation is completed. The wine is aged in French oak barrels of 225 liters and 5hl for 7 months and in bottle for another 7 months before bottling. The wine has hints of red fruit, licorice, black currant and a note of vanilla. Cheese plate — Parmigiano Reggiano DOP and Taleggio DOP

IMG_8752Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Riserva DOC 2017 “Ruberò” (Abruzzo) Cantina Frentana made from 100% Montepulciano. The vineyards are in the municipality of Rocca San Giovanni, situated on hills overlooking the Costa del Trabocchi with a south/southeastern exposure. The soil is medium textured and calcareous. Harvest is manual the second week in October. There is a soft pressing of the grapes with maceration and fermentation with the skins for 10/15 days in small stainless steel fermenters at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged in French tonneau oak barrels for about 14 months, then more aging in stainless steel and then in the bottle for a few months. The wine has hints of black cherry, blackberry, violets with a note of spice and leather.

Pasta di Gragnano IGP with a ragu of pork and beef ribs cooked slowly with San Marzano DOP tomatoes.

Lambrusco di Modena DOC Organic (Emilia-Romagna) Tenuta Agricola Cleto Chiarli made from 100% Grasparossa from a vineyard at 100 meters with 9 year old vines. The soil is brown to red in color with a superficial layer of loamy texture, alluvial sediment, coarse gravel and slightly alkaline. The training system is Geneva double Curtin. Vinification is with selected yeasts. Wine is in contact with the lees durning cold stabilization for 2 months. No second fermentation, only a single fermentation under pressure. A cross flow filter is used, Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine is aged for one month in the bottle. Residual sugar 15 g/lt has hints of red fruit, strawberry, raspberry and cherry.

Tortellini alla Bolognese, Veal stuffed tortellini cooked in chicken broth


Greco di Tufo 2020 DOCG Feudi Di San Gregorio made from 100% Greco (Campania) The soil is chalky. Alcoholic fermentation is in stainless steel tanks. Maturation is for about 4 months in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. .The wine has floral notes with hints of citrus fruit, pear and apricot with good acidity.

Chicken Curry — Chicken thigh cooked in Indian curry style with Basmati rice.

IMG_8758Est! Est! Est!!! Di Montefiascone DOP  Lazio 2021 “Le Pòggere”2021 Falesco (Umbria). Made from 60% Trebbiano, 15% Rossetto and 25% Malvasia from a 150 hectare vineyard at 300 meters. The average age of the vines is 18 years and the training system is spun cordon.There are 3,000 vines per hectare and the soil is crumbly with many pebbles. There is a soft pressing of the whole cluster grapes with an automatic press. The must settles for 24/48 hours and is racked to stainless steel vats where fermentation starts and is carried out at a controlled temperature with the addition of selected indigenous yeasts. The wine is left in contact with the yeasts for some days before being racked and when the wine is ready it is bottled very early to keep its freshness and taste. This is an aromatic wine that has floral and fruity notes with good acidity.

Porchetta, Roasted pork belly stuffed with garlic and wild bronze fennel

IMG_8759Carignano del Sulcis DOC 2013 “Grotta Rossa” Santadi (Sardegna) made from 100% Carignano from bush grown and counter espalier vineyards in the lower Sulcis. Soil is of medium mixture, lose with clay, sand and limestone. Harvest starts in the middle of September and ends the first week of October. The must is fermented with the skins at controlled temperature. There is  pumping over. Malolactic fermentation takes place and then the wine ages in cement vats for several months before bottling. This is an intense fruity wine with a licorice finish.

Braised beef with maple syrup. Slow cooked, low temperature ribs with maple syrup


Mondoro Asti DOCG (Piemonte) made from 100% Moscato from grapes in vineyards situated in the territory of Canelli, Santo Stefano, Belbo and Calosso. The Asti Method: Grapes are crushed and the juice is stored at a low temperature until needed. When the wine is ready to be made the grape juice is warmed and fermentation takes place in pressurized tanks. Carbon dioxide is allowed to escape until the alcohol level reaches 6% and the Carbon dioxide is retained creating bubbles. Fermentation continues until it reaches 7%/7.5 alcohol by volume and the pressure is close to 5 atmospheres. The fermentation is stopped by chill filtration and the wine is bottled for immediate release. The wine has hints of honey, peach, pears and a note of orange blossom. Alcohol is 7%

Panettone, Fiasconaro, Sicily

Terre Siciliane IGP “Kio” 2017 Nocera Passito Tenuta di Mastronicola (Sicily) made from 100% Nocera from a vineyard at 110 meters. The soil is medium mixed tending to calcareous. The training system is spurred cordon and the green harvest reduces about 40% of the grapes. Harvest is in mid November. Vinification is in small stainless steel tanks for about 10 months during which manual punching down of the raisin grapes is carried out. The wine is aged in French oak barrels for 24 months and in bottle for six months before release. The wine has hints of liquor infused cherries, blackberries, jam, prune, chocolate and notes of vanilla.

Bis Di Cioccolato — Modicao Cioccolato di Modica IGP (Vanilla), Sicily and Venchi Cioccolato Fondente 80% (South American blend), Piemonte.

Not surprisingly, all of the traditional wine and food pairings worked beautifully as did many of the non-traditional combinations, though I might have chosen different Italian wines to pair with some of the dishes.

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