Italian Wine Club
Italian - 10th Allocation
This month, we present a few wines that I discovered on my recent sojourn to Italy - Tenuta Sant'Antonio Valpolicella Superiore (Ripasso) Monti Garbi DOC and Inama Soave Classico Superiore Vin Soave DOC. Your allocation is for one bottle of each.
Tenuta Sant'Antonio Valpolicella Superiore (Ripasso) Monti Garbi DOC About two decades ago, the four Castagnedi brothers – Tiziano, Armando, Paolo, and Massimo – decided that they no longer wanted to tend their father's vineyards. They wanted to create a new, modern, and world-class winery that would bring pride to their little corner of the Veneto. They named their winery Tenuta Sant'Antonio and set out to make Amarone, Valpolicella, Ripasso, Passito, Soave, and Recioto di Soave wines, all from grapes grown on their mountaintop vineyards in Val d'Illasi and Valpolicella. They've made tremendous progress in a country where the top wineries measure their tenure in centuries, not decades.
While all of their wines have something to recommend, it's the Tenuta Sant'Antonio Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso called "Monti Garbi" that is the perfect juxtaposition of price and quality. It's a blend of 70% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, and 10% mixed Croatina and Oseleta.
As you might notice, none of these grapes' names rolls trippingly off the tongue, which is one of the reasons that this wine, which should rightfully cost about $35, doesn't. These wines are made by allowing the young Valpolicella wine to rest on some of the prior year's remnants from their $100+ wines, which lends the Ripasso greater texture and more powerful flavors. Imagine aromas of red berries and pipe tobacco along with cleansing acidity, and you'll have a pretty good idea of what to expect. Pour a glass for your friends, and they'll swear you spent twice as much as you actually did.
Inama Soave Classico Superiore Vin Soave DOC The Inama estate was founded in 1960 by Giuseppe Inama, who owned vines in the heart of the Soave Classico region, predominantly on the highly regarded Monte Foscarino. He handed the reigns to his son in 1992, who has continued to tend the family's vines, principally Garganega and Sauvignon Blanc, but also Chardonnay and a number of red varieties.
The Soave vineyards are largely sited on the hills overlooking Soave and Monteforte d'Alpone, on the volcanic soils that typify the region. The grapes here are Garganega, the principal variety of all Soave, and Sauvignon Blanc, which has become something of an Inama specialty. Other vineyards include the Colli Berici Bradisismo, the name of which derives from bradyseism, a slow seismic event which forms ridges in the land. The soils here are terra rossa, like those found in the Coonawarra region of South Australia, and as such are eminently suited for red vines rather than white. Bordeaux varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenere are the most common, and Colli Berici was the first DOC for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in all Italy. The vines were imported from Bordeaux, along with Carmenere, which was mistaken for Cabernet Franc at the time. Today, as a result, many wines still declare themselves, incorrectly, as Cabernet Franc on the label. Intervention in the winery is minimal; the wines see a short maceration, and a gentle pressing. The must then settles before temperature-controlled fermentation, and then malolactic. The wines are bottled with as little fining and filtration as is possible.
The range of wines at Inama focuses on Soave and Sauvignon, with several cuvées of each, as well as Chardonnay and other wines. The Soave starts with the straight Classico cuvée, made from 100% Garganega (as is the case for all Soave) grown on 17 ha of basaltic lava. The vineyards are located on south, south-west and south-east facing slopes of Monteforte d’Alpone and Soave, at an altitude of 100 – 200 m. The vines are up to 30 years old, pergola trained and hand-harvested. It sees a cold soak, with stainless steel fermentation and up to eight months in steel before bottling. The Soave Vigneti di Foscarino is a special selection from these vineyards, sourced from about 10 ha of vines. The main difference is in the winery, where this cuvée sees alcoholic and malolactic fermentation in oak, with eight months oak ageing, with batonnage, before a coarse filtration and bottling. There is also a single vineyard Soave, Vigneto du Lot, sourced from a 2 ha plot on the Monte Foscarino. This sees the same oak treatment, using a mix of Allier and Nevers barrels.
Made from hand-harvested pergola-trained Garganega grapes, fermented and aged in stainless steel, this crisp white wine has a distinctive herbal edge to the nose. The sip is rounded and rich with lots of flavor and a mineral edge. Enjoy this concentrated white wine with breaded and fried squid, pasta in light or white sauces, or with hard Italian cheese shaved thin.
For the Soave: Rigatoni with Braised Chicken Thighs and Saffron Serves 4
This recipe makes a great mid-week supper, and leftovers are great for the following day’s lunch.
2 1/2 pounds chicken thighs with skin and bones
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped white onions
6 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
2 cups dry white wine
1 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
2 cups chicken stock
1 pound rigatoni
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup chopped fresh basil
Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, skin side down, to skillet and cook until golden, about 7 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to plate.
Add onions and garlic to drippings in skillet; sauté until onions are slightly softened, 7 to 8 minutes.
Add wine and saffron to skillet; bring to boil. Continue to boil until liquid is thickened and reduced by less than half. Add the chicken stock to the skillet. Return chicken to skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer gently until chicken is very tender. Transfer chicken to plate and cool.
Reserve skillet with juices. Remove skin and bones from chicken and discard. Tear chicken meat into bite-size pieces; place in medium bowl and reserve.
Cook pasta in pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain; return to pot.
Meanwhile, spoon off fat from juices in skillet; discard fat. Add cream to juices in skillet and boil until sauce is reduced enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
Stir in 2 tablespoons lemon juice, then chicken pieces. Stir over medium heat until heated through, adding more stock as needed. Season with salt and pepper. Add chicken mixture to pasta in pot and toss to coat. Stir in basil.
Transfer pasta to plates.
For the Valpolicella: Short Rib Lasagne Serves 8
This rich, meaty take on the classic lasagne recipe requires a little extra work that is well worth the effort.
* 5 fresh thyme sprigs plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
* 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
* 2 fresh parsley sprigs
* 1 bay leaf
* 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
* 4 pounds meaty beef short ribs
* 1 cup all purpose flour
* 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
* 4 medium carrots, chopped
* 2 celery stalks, chopped
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 2 tablespoons tomato paste
* 1/2 cup ruby Port
* 2 cups dry red wine
* 2 1/2 cup beef stock
* 6 garlic cloves, peeled
* 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1/4 cup all purpose flour
* 3 cups whole milk
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
* 2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
* 18 lasagna sheets, cooked
* 3 tablespoons oregano, chopped
Short Rib Sauce
Tie all herb sprigs and bay leaf in a cheesecloth for bouquet garni; trim excess cheesecloth. Set bouquet garni aside. Place mushrooms in heatproof bowl and add 1 cup boiling water; cover and let stand until mushrooms soften, about 20 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer mushrooms to work surface; chop. Reserve mushroom soaking liquid.
Preheat oven to 325°F. Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper. Place flour in medium bowl. Dredge ribs in flour, shaking off excess; place on a baking sheet. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook the ribs until browned on all sides. Return ribs to baking sheet.
Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, and onion; cook until softened, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Stir in chopped mushrooms. Add tomato paste; stir until tomato paste begins to brown on bottom of pot, about 1 minute. Add Port and stir until almost all liquid is absorbed, scraping up any browned bits. Add red wine. Pour in reserved mushroom soaking liquid and bring to boil. Simmer until reduced by about 1/3, stirring often. Add stock, garlic, and bouquet garni. Return to boil. Return ribs to pot, arranging meat side down in single layer. Cover pot; place in oven and braise ribs until very tender, about 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 hours.
Using tongs, transfer ribs from pot to rimmed baking sheet to cool. Discard bouquet garni. Shred beef; discard bones. Spoon off fat from top of sauce in pot; discard fat. Boil sauce until reduced to 51/2 cups. Return meat to sauce. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in chopped thyme. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled.
Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour; whisk until smooth. Cook until light golden brown, whisking frequently. Add milk; bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Cook a few minutes, and then add nutmeg. Season béchamel to taste with salt and pepper. Cool slightly; cover and chill.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Butter 15x10x2-inch baking dish. Spoon 1 cup meat sauce over bottom of dish; spread in thin layer. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons cheese over. Arrange 6 lasagna sheets over to cover. Drizzle 1 cup béchamel over noodles, spreading in even layer; sprinkle a little of the chopped oregano over top. Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese over. Spread 2 cups meat sauce over. Repeat with noodles, béchamel, oregano, cheese, and meat sauce. Cover with remaining 6 noodles. Spread remaining béchamel over noodles. Sprinkle remaining cheese over.
Bake lasagna uncovered until edges are bubbling and top is golden brown in spots, about 45 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.