Argentiera Wine Dinner

We attended a wine dinner at Tomasso Trattoria in Southborough last week. We had always wanted to go to Tomasso for dinner, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity to try their food. The wines were from Italy, but not Italian varietals. Instead, the wines of Argentiera were the typical French grapes of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Strangely, these wines are DOC, as the region of Bolgheri has DOC zones for these wines. I had never heard of a DOC zone for non-Italian varietals, so it would be a new experience all around.

When we sat down, they had a glass of Poggio ai Ginepri Rosato. This was a dry rose made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grapes. It was a very good rose, with a lightness matched by a slight acidity. It had faint fruit flavors, mainly of strawberry. It was a simple, good quaffing wine. We were then treated to an overview of the wines by Jeannette Servidio, the marketing director for the winery. Her English was very good (with some minor hiccups). It was through her that we learned that Poggio ai Ginepri means “Hill of junipers”, which are numerous in Bolgheri. She also described the area as being on the coast of the Tyrrhenean Sea, home to numerous silver mines in ancient times. She also talked about the DOC classification of the wines, which was very interesting.

The first course was a trio of bruschetta. One had anchovy and pesto, another one was stockfish with apples, and the final one was beef with fig preserve. The best one, based on our table, was the beef and fig preserve. The beef was dry aged for 30 days and tasted excellent. The stockfish and apples came in second, as the saltiness of the fish contrasted nicely with the acidity of the apples. In dead last came the anchovy and pesto. The anchovies were too strong and the pesto was barely noticeable. Most of us took one bite and that was it. Paired with this course was the 2012 Poggio ai Ginepri Toscana Bianco IGT. This is a blend of Vermentino, Viognier, and Sauvignon Blanc. The main aroma was melons, so we knew the Viognier was the main grape. The taste reflected this, as it was smooth, with very little noticeable acidity. I did not taste the Vermentino or Sauvignon Blanc.

 The next course was a Terrine of Butternut Squash, which contained prosciutto, pears, and sage chips with pumpkin cream. This dish was truly outstanding. As most people mention, you can’t go wrong with prosciutto. The best part of the dish was the sage chips. These were made in the same fashion as kale chips. Essentially, it is roasted sage. It tasted like sage, but had the crunchiness of a potato chip. Paired with this was the 2010 Poggio ai Ginepri Bolgheri Rosso DOC. This was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot. This wine was very good. The aroma was of blackberries and the taste was smooth and balanced. The tannins were not overpowering and the wine had a richness to it without being overpowering on the alcohol.

The next course was pici. This was a handmade pasta with a wild boar ragu. Interestingly, in the US, you cannot sell wild meat. So, anything wild has to be raised on a farm. This particular “wild” boar came from Texas. The boar added a gaminess to the ragu, and the pasta was fresh and perfectly cooked. The pasta was made in a “rustic” style, so all of the strands looked different. This definitely added a nice characteristic to the pasta. This meat dish was paired with the 2010 Villa Donoratico Bolgheri Rosso DOC. Villa Donaratico is the name of the estate, so this is one of their more prestigious wines. It contained a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. This wine was spectacular. The Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot added that spiciness and zest to the wine, whereas the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon softened it up. It paired extremely well with the boar, as the gaminess of the meat complimented the spiciness of the wine.

 The next course was a stuffed saddle of rabbit. I am a huge fan of rabbit and am currently raising them to eat. This dish had a small piece of rabbit rolled in between rabbit liver by swiss chard over cannellini beans. The rabbit was extremely tender and flavorful. I’m not a huge fan of rabbit liver, but even that paired extremely well with the rabbit meat. This was paired with the 2009 Argentiera Bolgheri Rosso Superiore DOC. This was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. This wine was majority Cabernet Sauvignon and tasted a little out of balance for me. The tannins were a bit much and sucked a lot of the moisture from my mouth (that the rabbit dish had so pleasantly added). The Merlot was not enough to soften it, and the Petit Verdot was not noticeable. This wine may need more time to drop tannins, but this was not my first choice for best wine of the evening.

 The final course was a panforte. This is akin to a fruitcake and this one was made with chestnut flour and dried prunes. I did not like it. For a long meal, I believe you should end on a light note. This was not light at all and was too dense. It was a perfect panforte, but not what I wanted after four previous courses. This was paired with the flagship one, the “Giorgio Bartholomaus” Toscana Merlot IGT. This wine is only made in select vintages out of a single grape variety, Merlot. I didn’t feel as though this wine lived up to its billing. It was akin to a Cabernet Sauvignon in terms of tannins and was kind of dull. The aromas and flavors were muted somewhat. I am not sure whether this needs more time or if this would always be true. The last course was a bit of a disappointment.

Overall, we got to taste six wines from this novel producer. I would definitely like to have more bottles of the Villa Donaratico Bolgheri Rosso DOC as it was hands down the favorite of our table. The rosato came in second as it is always great to find a quality dry rose. They tend to be few and far between.