When I saw the lineup for this wine dinner, I had to sign up. 1) The menu put together by Chef Ryan Soule was irresistible, and 2) the presence of Amarone to accompany the fifth course attracted me. After four decades of wine drinking, I had yet to drink an Amarone. I was not disappointed.
FIRST COURSE: 2014 Pieropan, Soave Classico with a risotto of pickled garlic scape, slow roasted tomato, asparagus tips with a truffle oil drizzle and shaved Parmesan Reggiano, Wow! The dish was beautiful, and the wine was a perfect match. Broad flavors of Garganega--minerals, almonds, citrus. Good body, good acidity. I was lucky enough to take home a bottle of this as a door prize.
SECOND COURSE: 2013 Pieropan La Rocca with scallops, crab and lobster stuffed in grape leaves with ricotta, lemon and toasted orzo. This dish was probably the highlight of the evening. You can never go wrong with ingredients like scallops, crab and lobster, but the Chef added some creative touches. The grape leaves and toasted orzo added texture, the lemon and ricotta made the whole dish sing. And Pieropan's La Rocca was a good match. Brilliant deep yellow. Lovely smells: floral, lemon, minerals. Dances on the tongue. Excellent.
THIRD COURSE: 2014 Allegrini Valpolicello Superiore DOC, with mushroom pasta stuffed with pheasant confit served with roasted pheasant breast, crispy portabella and a rich poultry glace. I don't drink much Valpolicello; this wine convinced me that I should drink more. Deep ruby. Exciting red cherry and spice. Good fruit, acid, substance. And again, a perfect match with a mushroom pasta pocket filled with pheasant confit. The poultry demi glace was particularly rich.
FOURTH COURSE: 2011 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre IFT with basil-horseradish gnocchi, taleggio, roasted strip loin, pine nut and charred tomato salata. Along with the Pieropan La Rocca, this wine was a highlight of the evening. Basically a ripasso, with 30% of the blend made from dried grapes. Rich and concentrated--plums, figs, dark cherries. The blend includes Sangiovese, which adds intense red cherry fruit. For $15.99, this is an excellent wine bargain. As for the food, it's hard to go wrong with roasted strip loin, but the gnocchi, taleggio cheese, charred tomatoes and pine nuts provided an exciting backdrop.
FIFTH COURSE: 2010 Allegrini Amarone with toasted farro and gorgonzola risotto, crispy braised lamb, fennel gremolata, natural jus. Well, I had my Amarone; $62 is a good price for this wine, but it's still out of my price range. I am impressed by the opulence. Wish I had put away some Amarone several decades ago; I suspect this wine will reward a decade or two of aging. Deep and dark. Rich, rich, rich. Plums, figs, dark cherries. Like velvet on the palate. And again, an excellent match for the rich lamb risotto--one of the best dishes of the evening.