Veronese Blend: Antinori Palazzo Della Torra 2007 – Pairing Rating: 9.0 out of 10.0
Zinfandel: Ravenswood Teldeschi Vineyard, 2009, Sonoma, CA – Pairing Rating: 7.5
Chef Nancy’s Minestrone
For months we have been looking forward to this trip. We are guests of our friends from St. Louis who love to invite a few couples to accompany them on private charters to beautiful places. This year: the San Juan Islands off the coast of Seattle/Vancouver. The boat: a 95’ motor yacht called the Alaskan Song. A crew of 4 attending to the every need of 3 couples. But the detailed itinerary, the exquisite menus, and the well-stocked wine cellar were all powerless to the forces of nature. It’s been raining off and on since we left Bellingham WA with the wind predicted to blow at 30-40 mph this afternoon. We remain docked in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island and are likely to be here for the first 3 nights of our 7-day cruise.
But the damp, windy weather prompted Chef Nancy to warm and elevate our spirits with hardy Minestrone for lunch. The usual complement of fresh vegetables was spiked with bacon, leeks and beef stock, along with a dash of Nuocmam fish sauce; proscuitto was added just before serving, and topped with grated Parmesan. Beautiful!
Captain Richard served two wines: a 2007 Veronese wine from Antinori called Palazzo Della Torra ($20) and a 2008 single vineyard California Zinfandel from Ravenswood ($38). The Palazzo blends the juice of Corvina with Rondinella. This, however, is not your typical co-fermented blend. Rather, some of the grapes are held back and sent to a drying room to become “raisined”, as is done for Amarone. These grapes are then pressed and the juice added to the rest of the juice (fermented earlier) to allow the two juices to undergo a second fermentation. The result is a Valpolicella-like blend of fruit and complexity, with enough power to stand up to the bold flavors of the minestrone. The Della Torra does not deliver the sweetness or the alcohol of Amarone, thereby making for a better pairing in our view – robust, but not domineering. The Zinfandel from Ravenswood was an acceptable pairing, but had higher alcohol and a softer finish; it offered less complexity and less interest than the Della Torra.
Summary: With a dish as bold as this minestrone, a number of different reds could easy complement the comforting flavors of this dish: Cabernet Franc, Primitivo and Aglianico come to mind. But if you have not tried Palazzo Della Torra, a unique version of Valpolicella, we encourage you to do so with your next hardy lunch.