|What:||Italian Dinner – Theo Randall’s Restaurant|
|When:||27 Mar 19 ,19:00 -22:30|
|Where:||The Intercontinental Hotel W1J 7QY map|
Speakers: David Gleave MW, Liberty Wines;
The Eponymous Theo Randall
The late John Arlott (1914-1991) wrote and spoke the most mellifluous prose. He also had the next best job on the planet as a wine writer and cricket commentator. His article on Italian wine in the Guardian in December 1972 opined: “The newcomer to Italian wine finds himself in a delightful – or infuriatingly – haphazard world. After the logical French and the painstakingly precise German labelling it demands a completely new approach. Only knowledge, memory or straight recourse to the reference book will in most cases elucidate the identity of a bottle. It may be labelled for a vineyard (Bardolino or Teroldego); a village (Barbaresco or Barolo); a district (Vesuvio or Valpolicella); the grape from which it is made (Nebbiolo or Barbera); or a legend, or simply an invented name.” Nothing much has changed. Your secretary always thought that Isole e Olena were two romantic characters rather like Romeo and Juliet until he discovered they were hamlets on opposite sides of a valley in Tuscany.
As for Est! Est! Est!!....
Over the years your dining club has bought French (and some German) wines and it has taken a few decades to realise there might be other producers worthy of our attention. So we will start our tentative exploration of Italian wine in the safe hands of Richard Gleave MW of Liberty Wines and Theo Randall who has kindly agreed to cook for us in his Italian restaurant in the Intercontinental Hotel. A few years ago the Club bought some wines from Piedmont and we thought we should try two of these with appropriate food and accompanied by other Italian wines. We can discuss the issue of whether to continue to buy Italian wines at the AGM.
Nebbiolo is the major red wine grape in Piedmont and is best grown in the terroir around the villages Barolo and Barbaresco. This is a fickle grape, somewhat like pinot noir, and perhaps of interest the Riedel glasses, from which we shall be drinking, are the same for the two grapes. The grape is early flowering and late ripening and only really does well on south or southwest facing slopes somewhere between 250 and 450 metres (it is about the same in yards – I am getting so bored with this “B” stuff). The soil is critical to development of the optimal flavour and the chalky marlstone (squashed mud) around Alba, the wine centre of Piedmont, seems to produce the best wines. We shall try three Barolos. Richard Gleave is a master of Italian wine and will help us unpick the complexities of Piedmont (which is relatively simple compared to some of the other Italian regions).
First a selection of canapes with Prosecco Spumante Superiore Asolo DOCG from Ca’ Morlin, tasted and “liked” by Sebastian Payne.
Then the antipasto of smoked eel with red and golden beets, mixed Italian leaves with fresh horseradish and creme fraiche. To wine match was a difficult task (someone has to do it) but a 2015 Riesling by GD Vajra from Langhe, a region to the south of Alba, had the acidity to cut the oil of the eel and the freshness and fruit to complement the beetroot in the salad.
Then the primi. A ravioli dish with veal we thought would be suited to the first Barolo, a 2014 Margheria from Massolino. This is a wine from the old Helvetian soils of Serralunga – the soil of Barbaresco, primarily Sant’Agata marl, is very similar to the soil of Monprivato whose wines we drink with the secondi. Keep some of this Massolino to compare.
The secondi is beef fillet wrapped in coppa di Parma with sweet celeriac, cavolo nero and Amarone sauce. Stunning. As the saying goes when in France – Burgundy with beef; Claret with Lamb – so in Italy Barolo Giuseppe Mascarello 2009 and 2006 with beef. Answers on a postcard to the assistant secretary as to which Italian wines go with lamb.
And then Theo Randall throws us a curve ball with a dolci of an Amalfi lemon tart. Hard to match, but then a Wine Society find seemed to be an excellent companion. Orvieto Classico Superiore Muffa Nobile ‘Calcaia’, Barberani 2015 has the weight, we think, to match the power of the lemon curd. Your votes at the end of the evening will be instructive.
This event is strictly limited to 100, so early booking is recommended.
Tony Wright, Honorary Secretary
Dress Code: Black Tie
Wednesday 5 June – Dinner and Club AGM at the Army & Navy Club
Thursday 5 December – Christmas Tasting at the Army & Navy Club
Vintages available from The Wine Society:
Barolo Monprivato, Giuseppe Mascarello 2013