Earlier this month two exceptional purveyors of things Italian teamed up in Glen Ellen, California. The inspiration for this fabulous pairing was the visit to Northern California of the iconic and historic Italian winemaking Boscaini family from Masi Agricola. The perfect host for this event was the rapidly rising restaurant Aventine Glen Ellen, owned and operated by Executive Chef Adolfo Veronese, of the extended San Francisco Alioto family.
The tasting was conducted upstairs in the Old Grist Mill built in 1839 by General Mariano Vallejo as a sawmill and now the home of Aventine Glen Ellen. About 60 guests were served pass-around Bruschetta di Burrata and Gamberoni with sautéed prosciutto paired with a Veneto 2013 Masianco Pinot Grigio ($16.99). Bright and crisp and perfectly suited to cut through and complement the richness of the prosciutto wrapped shrimp.
After everyone was seated, Raffaele Boscaini, Marketing Manager and Co-ordinator of the Masi Technical Group (research and quality development team), was introduced. The charming Italian spent a few minutes describing Masi Agricola and its Sant’Ambrogio di Valpolicella based operation. Amarone, a key wine of the Masi portfolio, is unique among wines as a result of partially drying the grapes before fermentation.
Valpolicella is located near Verona in the Venetian region of Northeastern Italy called the Veneto. It is influenced by the moderating effects of Lake Garda, the largest of the Italian Lakes and ranks second only to Chianti in total wine production in Italy. Corvina Veronese, Rondinella and Molinara are the principal grapes grown in the region and they are the key to the distinctive Valpolicella and Amarone wines that made the region famous.
Chef Adolfo joined Signore Boscaini to describe the rest of the menu and welcome everyone to Aventine Glen Ellen. The Antipasto, Veal Tartar with quail egg and whole grained mustard was delightfully paired with a 2009 Brolo Di Campoflorin, Veneto ($35). The Tartar was amazingly fresh flavored and had a palate pleasing texture which was amplified and complimented by the dried plum, cherries and violet flavors and aromas of the Brolo.
The Primo Piatti was a Risotto radicchio e pancetta. One word – scrumptious! The 2010 Costasera Amarone ($66), delivered powerful, complex dried plum flavors and aromas as well as hints of anise. The texture of this Amarone offered the characteristic silkiness that is Amarone.
The Secondo was amazing. Braised Lamb Shank (Osso Bucco di Agnello) with red lentil stew and an Amarone thyme sauce. This luscious and spectacularly mouth-watering dish was paired with the 2007 Vaio Amaron ($82) from the Serego Alighieri Vineyard, (property of direct descendents of 13th Century Italian poet, Dante Alighieri but managed by Masi Agricola). The Vaio Amaron was decadent with cinnamon and vanilla overlaid on the plush and hefty flavors of sweet cherry. Yowza!
Finally, the Formaggi. Masi’s 2007 Mazzano Amarone ($172) was served along with Toma Biellese Cow Cheese and Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese along with candied pecans and a mostarda di cremosa. The long finish of this Amarone preceded by its soft tannins and bright acidity were wonderful with the cheeses.
This was a fabulous event with mind boggling food and wines. The Boscaini family of Masi Agricola and Chef Adolfo Veronese combined for a most memorable evening. Etereo e memorabile!
Masi wines are part of the Kobrand portfolio and can be found online at Wine.com and in store in the SF Bay Area at numerous retail outlets like K&L Wine Merchants, Total Wines among others.
Aventine Glen Ellen is located at 14301 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen, CA 95442 in Sonoma County and is one of three restaurants in the Aventine Hospitality Group. The others are Aventine Hollywood and Aventine San Francisco.