This was the year for holiday Champagne dinners. And why not? As the restaurant industry has been especially hard hit by the pandemic, I suspect Victor Magalhaes, owner of Vittorio’s Italian Trattoria, was happy to survive another year of Covid-19.
And while I am not an immunologist, I am optimistic for the future and hoping that the worst of Covid will be over as omicron peaks. Here’s to another reason to pop the bubbly corks.
Once Magalhaes decided on the theme of the dinner, he knew his next move. He needed to call his longtime colleague and friend Mindy Hewitson, VP Western Division, Wilson Daniels. Leveraging her experience and DipWSET (Level 4) certification, Hewitson helped Magalhaes craft a fabulous five-course dinner including dessert with bubbly from Italy, France and North Coast, CA.
Dinner commenced with roasted beetroot carpaccio salad served with Jeio by Bisol Prosecco from Veneto, Italy. Bisol has been making wine since 1542 and is sourced from 20 vineyards. The acidity in the Prosecco paired well with the Champagne vinaigrette.
The second course brought together Chilean Sea Bass with lemon risotto and grilled asparagus and was complemented with Pierre Sparr, Cremant d’Alsace Rose. The Sparrs represent nine generations of winemaking since the 1600s. Located on the French/German border, their vineyards were decimated during World War II.
After the war, the Sparrs expanded and replanted with seven grapes. All were white, except for one red, Pinot Noir, that the Cremant was made from. The bubbling Pinot was a great mate for the course. For the third course, guests enjoyed homemade butternut squash ravioli with a butter sage sauce topped with pine nuts.
The pasta was served with Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut. As a reminder from last week’s column, Schramsberg played a role in world history when their original sparkling wine, Blanc de Blancs, was used for President Richard Nixon’s 1972 “Toast to Peace” with China’s Premier Zhou Enlai. Schramsberg’s wines have since been served at official State functions by every U.S. Presidential administration.
The main course featured short ribs braised in a red wine sauce served over creamy polenta alongside roasted tomatoes. This was paired with Gosset Grand Reserve Brut Champagne.
“It would not be a Champagne Wine Dinner without a sparkling wine from Champagne, France, the only region that can officially call a sparkling wine Champagne,” said Hewitson during dinner.
The Gosset Reserve Brut leverages over 400 years of winemaking and was a blend of the “holy trinity” of Champagne, including chardonnay (45%), pinot noir (45%), and pinot meunier (10%).
Meunier is the most “Champenois” of grapes and is planted over one-third of the vineyard area in Champagne, typically with a lower profile than chardonnay and pinot noir as in the case of the Gosset Brut served.
The sold-out wine dinner included a sweet surprise when Hewitson raffled 7 bottles of bubbly to lucky guests. The evening concluded even sweeter with a dessert of chocolate drizzled cannoli cookies from Kary Favish, of The Crosby Baker. More info at wilsondaniels.com.
The Crosby Baker Has Your Valentine’s Day Treats
Kary Favish, The Crosby Baker, has you covered for Valentine’s Day. Tell your special loved one how much they mean to you with Favish’s “Baked With Love and Made With The Highest Quality Ingredients” gourmet treats. Favish is on deck for providing Red Velvet Cupcakes filled with chocolate ganache at Vittorio’s January Prisoner Wine Dinner.
More importantly, Favish is taking orders for her menu items and off-menu custom desserts. Pick up or delivery is available for San Diego, North County or shipped for additional costs. Reach her at thecrosbybaker.com or 619-993-3464.
— Due to popular demand, Sal Ercolano’s Flora Bar & Kitchen in the Carmel Valley district of San Diego has added a third night for Daou Family Estate wine dinners. A new night, Tuesday, Jan. 25, is available, along with Wednesday, Jan 26, and Thursday, Jan 27. All dinners start at 6 p.m. Daou will present 5 of its most popular wines including their flagship, Soul of a Lion, Bordeaux red blend, served with Wild Boar Ossobuco. The cost is $85 per person, plus tax and gratuity. To reserve your seat, please call 858-461-0622.
— Vittorio’s Italian Trattoria in San Diego’s Pacific Highlands is hosting a Prisoner Wine Company Dinner on Thursday, Jan 27. Guests will enjoy a four-course dinner plus dessert featuring Grilled New Zealand Lamb Chops paired with Prisoner Cabernet Sauvignon for the main course. The cost is $75 per person, plus tax and gratuity. To reserve your seat, please call 858-538-5884.
Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. Frank and Rico are two of the leading commentators on the web. View their columns at tasteofwineandfood.com. Go to recent columns. Reach them at [email protected].