The Italian wine estate Castello d’Albola was featured at a special pairing dinner at Le Cirque September 15.
A large group of consumers gathered in a curtained-off section of the upscale restaurant to indulge in fine Italian wine paired with some inventive dishes from the kitchen.
The evening began with a special presentation in which representatives from the winery welcomed everyone and beamed as they expressed their appreciation for being able to present their wines to the group. In the 15th century, Castello d’Albola planted the highest vineyard in Chianti Classico, which was perceived as a symbol of status. The guests were soon able to appreciate this, as they were directed to a video screen, where a panoramic video of the rolling Tuscan vineyards captivated everyone’s attention. The estate has been owned by the Zonin family since 1979.
But soon it was time to enjoy dinner, which began with an unusual Tuscan, 2014 Poggio Alle Fate Chardonnay. Grown high on a hillside, it was a crisp rendition of Chardonnay but not austere. There was a slight creaminess on the midpalate and overall there were flavors of citrus and minerality. The Chardonnay was paired with a tangy shrimp and white bean dish.
Next came a stellar wine that stood head and shoulders above others of the same name: 2010 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Il Solatio. This limited edition wine was obviously made from the best fruit of the season. There were such delicious ripe cherry flavors, softness, elegance, and finesse that I was among the diners who asked the accommodating sommelier for a bit more. It was beautifully matched with wide pasta with a hearty ragu.
By the time the third course arrived, the dinner was in full swing and the guests of Le Cirque were clearly enjoying their night at this famous restaurant. Hanger steak was creatively served on a bed of lettuce with small mushrooms for garnish, and poured with this course was 2011 Acciaiolo Supertuscan. A wine to be reckoned with, it was a powerful, big red wine that stood up to the steak and then some. It had a long finish and was an achievement – showing how Super Tuscans can be both a departure from traditional Tuscan wines while not straying too far from their homes.
Regarding the smaller glass with the Chianti, which was a lighter shade of ruby, with the larger glass of the dark Super Tuscan, I remarked to head winemaker Alessandro Gallo, “It is like the wife and the husband.” This delighted him and in his concluding remarks on the dinner, he shared the metaphor.
We finished the elegant dinner with a classic creme brulee served with a rich and golden 2004 Vin Santo. The waiters gifted the diners one last remembrance of their night at Le Cirque – a jewelbox with two drawers holding perfect chocolate truffles. As the guests lingered at the table, sipping on Vin Santo and nibbling on chocolate, everyone seemed in agreement that it had been a wonderful evening of fine cuisine, high quality Italian wine, and good company.