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San Antonio Winery's 'Taste of Italy'

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Written with Greg Thompson

Sunday October 18, San Antonio Winery held their last wine festival of the season. The winery's Taste Of Italy paired regional Italian Foods with the wines of Italy. Italians are starting to incorporate recently learned California wine making styles. But it’s important to note that their wines are still generally dry, high in acid and need to be paired with food to show their best attributes.

Italian Sparkling wines have become increasingly dry as well, though America used to be mostly familiar with the sweet muscat grapes of Asti Spumante. The first region on San Antonio's list was

VENETO
Ruggeri Prosecco Gold Label. Produced by fermenting Prosecco grapes dry, this wine had an explosive aroma full of fruit and flowery notes. The rich creamy mousse carried the balanced flavors through the long dry finish. Salads can be hard to pair with wine, but the Grilled Radicchio with mushrooms and a not too vinegary Balsamic Dressing worked beautifully.

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La Montecchia Godimondo Cabernet Franc 2007. Unlike the varietal cab franc used in Bordeaux as a lighter blending grape, this was like the Cab Franc of California and South America. Ruby red in color, it had a refined lingering bouquet and a full bodied well balanced flavor. Like Veneto/Lombardia region reds, it required meat. Rich enough for the Lombardy-style Veal Scallopini followed by Grilled Italian Sausages.

There were rolls meant to make traditional Alpine mini sandwiches with salami, prosciutto cotto, but we went off the menu and made little sausage sandwiches, probably the best bite of the event.

UMBRIA
Arnaldo Caprai, Grecante 2007. Intense straw color, this Grechetto grape wine is intensely fruity with light floral character. It’s soft well balanced flavor made an excellent aperitif matched with Antipasti including Italian Cold Cuts and Fontina cheese.

ALTO ADIGE
La Boatina Pinot Grigio 2008 is from an albino clone of Pinot Noir. Meaning ‘grey grape’, it’s not blush like white zin but rather a greyish shade of green gold. Pinot Grigio was always a light simple wine until Italians started improving their wine making in the 80’s and 90’s. A certain competitor whose name sounds like a tequila cocktail really raised the bar and helped make this grape so fashionable. From the Collio District of Friuli, La Boatina Pinot Grigio is dry with a lush texture and rich fruit. It was perfect with the equally fashionable Grilled Polenta. The polenta was perfectly cooked. Sometimes it is the simplest dishes that are the easiest to ruin. Their polenta was perfection, topped with a light porcini and tomato sauce.

MARCHES
Luzanno Verdicchio dei Castelo di Jesi 2008 was pleasantly sharp on the tip of the tongue. Slightly frizante or spritzy with a floral nose, it’s lemon apply flavor was perfect with the Ligura-style Pescatore (white fish and salmon) Kebabs and Basil Lemon Dressing

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EMILIA-ROMANA
San Antonio Boutique Lambrusco dell’ Emilia is no Chill-a-Cella (old enough to remember Aldo?) It is nevertheless light, fruity and luscious with a light chill like Nouveau Beaujolais. Was rich served along with the Pasta Bar. Molto Rustico. The linguine was nice, the tortellini was a little bland, but the penne was fantastic paired with the bolognese sauce.
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TOSCANA (TUSCANY)
Fattoria di Petroio, Chianti Classico 2006 Everything Tuscan is also fashionable from wine and food to architecture and interior design. Toscana is home to Florence, the lovely Sienna countryside and the famed Chianti. The original center of the Chianti province is known as Chianti Classico. These wines, like the Fattoria di Petroio are now allowed to be 100% Sangiovese. A rich dark red with soft tannin and rich cherry flavors and a good acid balance. The long finish carried through the Florentine Prosciutto and Mozzarella Pizza.

San Felice Il Grigio Chianti Riserva 2005 is also 100% Sangiovese. This meant rich color, more cherry flavors and balanced fruit and soft tannins. With Stefano’s Farm Raised Lamb Kebabs it was a science of synergy. The lamb kebabs were full of flavor without being gamey. Definitely one of the better dishes.

Capanna Rosso Di Montalcino 2007
A younger version of Brunello di Montalcino with 2 years of oak age instead of 4. Rich red solid food wine, it was initially a bit too acidic, almost astringent. But a few tastes of flavorful Sicilian style Chicken Marsala smoothed it right out. The chicken was tender an juicy, if not not too flavorful. Perhaps they went light on the marsala so as not to battle with the wine.

DESSERT
Il Conte d’Alba Moscato d’Asti was served ice cold. It was pleasantly sweet and fruity like muscat should be. Not at all cloying, and it actually was good with the Almond torta After the Fig Balsamic Gelato was one of the best gelatos we have ever tasted. The fresh fig was intense, and there was barely a whisper of balsamic so as not to overwhelm the palate with the taste of vinegar.