25 Feb Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Food and Wine Pairing Dinner at Tesse Restaurant with Montecariano Wines
A week ago, a friend asked me to join her at a wine dinner that very night. We bought our tickets only to realize that the dinner was going to be this week. Then, when it came to Friday night, the rain was coming down and the thought of snuggling on my couch and watching TV was more appealing. But I had made a commitment, so I went to dinner. And I am very happy I did because it was a wonderful meal pairing the food of Tesse Restaurant with the wines of Montecariano from Veneto, Italy. The pairings were so spot on that the Food and Wine Pairing Dinner at Tesse Restaurant is the Please The Palate pick of the week.
Tesse Restaurant is a French restaurant located on the Sunset Strip. Owner Jordan Orgron, who oversees the extensive wine list, hosts regular wine dinners at the restaurant. This week the dinner was with Matteo Galtarossa of Montecariano. Montecariano is a family winery owned by Mariella Gini together with her two sons, Marco and Matteo. Mariella and her sons began producing wine in 2000 and their first wine was Amarone. Today they have 22 hectares planted of indigenous Valpolicella grapes, Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, and Molinara, as well as Pelara and Osleta. While Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, and Molinara are the primary grapes of Valpolicella, Valpolicella Ripasso, and Amarone, Montecariano is one of the only producers to use all four grapes in all of their wines.
The first course was Hokido Scallop Crudo with cucumber and apricot vinaigrette.
This dish was paired with the Montecariano Madonna del Cariano 2021, Bianco IGT. For this wine, the four grapes are vinified white. The grapes are hand-picked, pressed, and fermented together in tank with no skin contact. Molinara, which is often excluded in Valpolicella wines due to its light color, is what gives the wine its acidity and freshness. With notes of grapefruit pith, stone fruits, and minerality, the wine had a lovely texture and freshness that cut through the creaminess of the scallops for a beautiful harmonious pairing.
The second course was Veal Tartare with tonnato and gougères.
This dish was paired with the Montecariano 2016 Corte Monte Valpolicella Classico Superiore DOC. Like the white wine, this wine was made with the four grapes. It was a deep ruby red color with aromas of dark berries, plums, and spice but on the palate was medium-bodied and fresh. It did not overpower the tartare, rather it was a balanced pairing.
The third course was Mushroom Agnolotti with black trumpet mushroom, spinach, and ricotta salata paired with the Montecariano 2017 Valpolicella Ripasso, Classico Superiore DOC.
The Ripasso is made by taking the freshly fermented Valpolicella wine and adding seeds, skins, and grape pulp of air-dried grapes, and then re-fermenting it all together. This usually results in a deeper, richer-style wine. The Montecariano had darker fruit aromas but fresh acidity and sapidity that cut through the dense pasta with its earthy mushroom flavors and salty cheese.
The fourth course was Crispy Duck Breast with dried figs, potato puree, and roasted duck jus. It was paired with the Montecariano 2016 Camini Monga Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG. This wine was aged for 30 months in large Slavonian tonneau (big barrels). It was a deep ruby color with note of cherry, blackberry, and spice. On the palate, the wine was elegant with a brightness and roundness that matched well with the richness and fattiness of the duck.
The fifth, and final, course was Beef Short Rib with truffled white polenta, beef fat carrots, and red wine reduction sauce.
It was paired with the Montecariano 2013 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva DOCG which was aged for 45 months in large Allier oak tonneau. Amarone is made from partially dried-out, almost raisin-like grapes. Amarone is typically a big, rich, intense wine with sweet notes but the Montecariano Amarone was the opposite. It had the classic notes of black cherry, blackberry, spice, and balsamic but on the palate the wine was pure elegance. It was the wine’s elegance and fresh lift that was able to cut through the richness of the short rib dish.
Pairing food and wine is fun. Sometimes pairings work and other times they do not. But the dinner at Tesse Restaurant with the Montecariano wines showcased what happens when every pairing works. The result is harmony. It meant that everyone at the table was commenting and complimenting after each bite. That is a successful food and pairing experience and I look forward to returning to Tesse Restaurant for more of these experiences.