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Filtering by Tag: Vespa Bianco

Taste The Wines of Bastianich Tonight @ Swirl

Beth Ribblett

Lidia Bastianch and her son Joe have dedicated their lives to bringing the best of Italy home to your table.  Award winning restaurants, best selling books, popular cooking shows, and amazing wines, they've created an Italian family food dynasty like nothing else I've seen.

Lidia's cookbooks are some of our favorites and I feature her recipes regularly on my blog and Joe's book "Vino Italiano" is one of my go to references on the crazy world of Italian wine.  Besides owning 18 restaurants across the country, they now own three wineries in Italy in Friuli, Tuscany and recently a property in Piedmont, all which produce very high quality, food friendly wines at approachable prices.  Due to our crazy tasting schedule, the wines go in and out of inventory so, needing a Bastianich fix, I asked Monica from Neat Wines about doing an event.  We'll be tasting 5 wines from Friuli and the Maremma and I might just throw in a special treat of an older vintage bottle of their 5 time winner of the acclaimed "Three Glasses" award, The Vespa Bianco.  We'll have copies of a few of Lidia's recipes available and some Italian cured meats and cheeses to try with the wines.

Our events with the Neat Wines crew are always fun and with this lineup, Tuesday night is sure to be a sell out, so please call 504.304.0635 for a reservation.  Attendance is limited and pre-payment is required to hold your spot. $10, Tuesday, 6:30-8pm.

The Return of an Old Friend

Beth Ribblett

The life of a wine on the shelves at Swirl can be short lived. Sometimes is has nothing to do with popularity, just the mere fact that due to our ambitious schedule of 2+ tastings per week combined with my inability to pass on new and interesting wines, our inventory is ever changing and evolving. The positive side to this is that you, our treasured customers, are constantly getting exposed to cool and different wines, lots of obscure varieties, exciting new regions and up and coming wine makers. The downside is that a wonderful wine may get pushed out of the rotation just because I need space for the 10 new wines we'll be bringing in for this weeks lineup of tastings!

Such is the case of one of my favorite wines produced by a family who have been part of an Italian wine and food "revolution" in this country. Ignited by the matriarchal maven of Italian cooking, Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, and fueled by her son Joe's ever-expanding array of projects, the Bastianichs have played a major role in bringing the culture of Italy to our tables. I've written often about Lidia, have had the privilege of meeting Joe through our friends at Neat Wines and have been enamoured with the family and their projects for quite some time.

So the "old friend" that has returned is the 2004 Bastianich Vespa Bianco, the flagship wine of the Bastianich winery in Friuli. My personal pick for our Thanksgiving meal, and an open spot on the racks gave me the perfect excuse to bring back this store favorite. The Vespa is one of what Joe calls "Super-Whites," the blends that command the most respect in Friuli. The Super-Whites from Friuli are quite different from the whites of other Italian regions, beginning with the fact that they're blended. The grape varieties generally include Friulano(Friuli's most famous grape), Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay.

This 5-time Gambero Rosso Three Glass winner was created to showcase the power and evolution that a great Friulian white can have. Consisting of equal parts Sauvignon and Chardonnay with a measure of Picolit, Vespa Bianco becomes a sum of its parts, a wine of uncommon complexity.

In the most recent issue of Gambero Rosso magazine, Bastianich Vespa Bianco was named one of the top “50 Bianchi d’Italia”. The wines chosen were not vintage-specific. This was an overall ranking of the best white wines in Italy over the past 23 years.

Bastianich Vespa Bianco ranked number 32 overall, among some of the greatest and most famous whites in all of Italy. Their placement in the Top 50 is especially noteworthy considering that many of the other wines mentioned in the article have a much longer winemaking history than Bastianich.

Winemaker's Notes: A tightly wound balance of minerality and citrus, evolving over time into a more viscous expression of wildflowers, clover honey and mature pear. The palate sensations are more like those of a red wine. Its powerful tannic structure and acidic backbone lend it not only immediate impact but a long life. Vespa Bianco can be further aged up to 7-10 years after the vintage.

Gambero Rosso 2007

Superbly complex, and veined with cream and banana, it is lifted by fresh fruit to the heights of elegance. The supremely balanced, gutsy palate is textbook stuff, making this a particularly sophisticated Three Glass champion.
Tre Bicchieri - Gambero Rosso

The best part? You can get this kind of quality and longevity for $28.99!

For more information on Bastianich wines, Joe and Lidia, check out these great links including Joe's blog, "The Buzz", the source of those great wasp photos!

The Buzz
Joe Bastianich
Lidia's Italy
New York Restaurant Insider, a great article on Lidia and her incredible life journey
Swirl and Savor: Lidia, my past posts on Lidia and some of her recipes

Felidia, Delizioso!

Beth Ribblett

The reservation for our much anticipated dinner at Felidia was Tuesday night. I was able to
arrange it through one of the Bastianich staff who visited us last summer (thank you Caroline!). If you spend any time with us or in the shop, you know how we feel about Lidia and her wines. She and her son Joey own the Bastianich winery in Friuli and La Mozza in the Maremma (Tuscany). The Bastianich Tocai Friulano, Vespa Bianco, Rosato and Sauvignon Blanc as well as the La Mozza I Perazzi are some of few standard labels of our ever revolving inventory. We drink them often and recommend them frequently as we've sold close to 800 bottles of their wines since we opened.

We also are huge fans of Lidia's show on PBS, Lidia's Italy, that takes you on a journey with Lidia to her ten favorite regions around Italy as she introduces you to friends and family and takes you to food markets, fishing villages and farms as you haggle over the price of fish and forage for the perfect truffle. Then, return back to Lidia’s familiar kitchen to prepare a sumptuous meal using the regional recipes and ingredients. We also own a few of her cookbooks and have loved everything we've made.

So, needless to say, we had high expectations, especially after all of the great food we had eaten over the last few days! We were greeted by an incredibly friendly staff who gave us Lidia's regards and said she was sorry she couldn't be there to greet us. True or not, it was a very nice gesture on their part! We were led past a beautiful mahogany bar to a wonderful table near the kitchen in the second dining room. It's a very warm, kind of cozy atmosphere; beautiful hardwood floors, amber textured walls with a stained wood wainscoting, all washed in great ambient lighting from the sconces on the wall.

As soon as we sat down, we were brought complimentary bubbly, a sparkling wine in the Bastianch line that I've never seen before. A very crisp, clean sparkling that was mainly Chardonnay and had a beautifully dry finish. The wine list was incredible with every region of Italy represented in both red and white wines as well as nearly every other wine producing country from Croatia, Greece and Hungary to the European powerhouses of France, Spain, Austria and Germany to the new world players of the US, South American, Australia and New Zealand. The menu had to be close to 40 pages long and the prices ranged from a $25 of Croatian Katunar Žlahtina to a $2250 bottle of a 1955 Biondi Santi Brunello and truly everything in between.

To start our evening, I chose a 2000 Bastianich Vespa Bianco, the flagship wine of the estate created to showcase the power and evolution that a great Friulian white can have. Consisting of equal parts Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay with a touch of Picolit, Vespa Bianco becomes a sum of its parts, a wine of amazing complexity. A five time winner of the prestigious Gambero Rosso Three Glasses award, the Vespa Bianco is incredible in any vintage! I was debating between the 2000 and the 2006 and the very unpretentious sommelier steered me toward the 2000 to see how well the wine ages. With creamy layers of stone fruit intertwined with smoke, earthiness and French oak, this medium-bodied white shows outstanding harmony and tons of style and was fabulous with the food! I'm really glad I ordered it because it reminded me of how special this wine is and that I need to get it back in the shop, especially at the incredible price of $30 retail!

The second wine of the evening came from my new favorite wine region, the eastern area of Sicily near Mt. Etna. These wines are incredibly elegant yet powerful, more reminiscent of burgundy than the dark reds of the island. I chose the Palari Rosso di Soprano, a blend of local grape varieties, Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, Nocera, Acitana, and Jacche. The blend is based on a wine known in antiquity as Mamertino, which comes from the native nerello mascalese, nerello cappuccio, nocera. Medium ruby with a striking garnet tinge, this wine is immediately approachable, even with its grippy tannins. An alluring nose of baked earth and raspberry fruit. The medium-full body is filled with flavors of cherry, blackberry, raspberry and leather with a silky mouth feel.

Now came the arduous task of trying to chose what to eat from the menu of food and specials we were given! Since there were 4 of us, we decided to get lots of dishes and eat family style, and between what we ordered and the fabulous complimentary items they sent out, it would be hard to write about everything, so here are the highlights!

Antipasti: Il Polipo all Griglia- sliced mosaic and grilled octopus with burrata stracciatella and black olives. Burrata is a typical cheese produced in the province of Bari, in the south of Italy. It has the shape of a small “sack” made of soft cheese which contains a generous quantity of stracciatella, a delicate mixture of fresh cream and mozzarella frayed in thin threads. The octopus was sliced super thin and the mixture of flavors with the divine sweet creamy burrata and the salty olives was nothing short of amazing. Hands down the best octopus I've ever eaten!

Primi Piatti: Il Cacio e Pere - Pear and fresh pecorino-filled ravioli, aged pecorino, crushed black pepper. Creamy and rich with an incredible mix of textures filling the melt in your mouth fresh pasta sacks.

Secondi Piatti: Il Manzo, Flat Iron braised in Goulash sauce, or the Il Branzino, Whole grilled Mediterranean bass. Both were delicious, but by this time we had a cocktail, sparkling wine, a bottle of white and a bottle of red. The details of the dishes are a bit blurry, but the feeling of gastronomic satiation lives on!

I Dolci: Panna Cotta di Mandorle - the creamiest, smoothest panna cotta, somehow delicate and rich at the same time with a subtle almond flavor. The perfect end to the perfect meal!

All in all, it was an incredible experience that exceeded our expectations. The service was impeccable, attentive but not intrusive; the environment and physical space were beautiful without any pretense or snobbishness which was surprising in a restaurant with the reputation of Felidia. And the food was spectacular, with each palate pleasing dish presenting a incredible array of flavors, textures and individuality. Delizioso!!

Check out this great video of Lidia talking about her restaurant:

Felidia Restaurant New York, NY - Click here for more free videos