This past Tuesday I was introduced to the newest sparkling wine producer to hit the Chicago market- Valdo Spumanti. Their wines were set to be paired with the cuisine at Tony Mantuano's Terzo Piano in the Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago. This would be an all out effort to not only prove the versatility of Prosecco but also the versatility it can bring.
A little bit about Prosecco- it's famous for being crisp, light and fruity, along with being a great value sparkling wine. It's made from the Glera varietal (formerly known as the Prosecco varietal) in northeast Italy, mostly from the hills surrounding Treviso. Valdo has been making wine for over 80 years, was purchased by the Bolla family in the 1940s and has dedicated itself to making high quality sparkling wine from hand picked grapes along with single vineyard bottlings, which is rare for Prosecco. The wines were brought to us by Dr. Pierluigi Bolla, proprietor of Valdo, and were to be paired with three courses prepared by Chef Meg Colleran. On to the tasting!
We were initially greeted with Valdo Prosecco Brut DOC ($12) and it proved to be just as flavorful as it was aromatic. Sweet golden apple, white peach, meyer lemon and lilies were coming out of the glass- it'll be hard to keep this wine off my patio this summer!
It was time to start the pairings as we were poured Valdo Cuvée di Boj Prosecco Brut DOCG ($16). A single vineyard wine from the vaile dei buoi, it is aged for 5 months sur lie and 3 months in the bottle. This wine is much drier with a longer finish and ripe pear and apple flavor. The crisp acidity matched well with our tomato salad with cherries, almonds and 8yr Balsalmic vinegar.
The next course would be a big challenge- a rich dish of roasted Miller's skin-on chicken leg with fennel seed, cous cous and Nichols Farm snap peas. We were poured Valdo Cuvée del Fondatore Prosecco Brut DOCG ($20), another single vineyard Prosecco aged 12 months sur lie, 6 months in the bottle and blended with 10% six month barrel aged Chardonnay to add richness. The wine was extremely complex and lengthy with tropical fruit, toasted nuts, baking spice and dry, crisp acidity making it drinkable with many rich fish, poultry or meat dishes.
The last course we tried turned out to be the best thing I ate all day- Ricotta Fritters with sweet corn ice cream, raspberries and plums. The fritters were crisp and warm on the outside with a slightly sweet cheesy center- just an amazing dessert! The sweetness and the fruit paired well with Valdo Nerello-Mascalese Brut Rosé ($12), a blend of Prosecco with the dark Sicilian Nerello-Mascalese varietal. Just red berry fruit and floral harmony with this extreme value of a rosé sparkling wine.
These Prosecco wines were very impressive all the way around- point taken!
Special thanks to Dr. Pierluigi Bolla, Chef Meg Calleran, Lindsey Johnson of Lush Light Productions for the invite and Marene Babula of Pasternak Wine Imports for being an awesome host.