Frankfurt at the end of November. After the onset of winter at the beginning of the week, this is not an evening that would voluntarily lure me out of the door, especially as it is Tuesday evening.
But the Consorzio Gambero Rosso had invited me to a tasting menu with wines from the Oltrepò Pavese and Grana Padano D.O.P. cheese as part of a German-Swiss roadshow. All of this in a restaurant that I have grown very fond of over the past two years, a trendy Italian restaurant in the Westend, L’Unico.
Marco Sabellico, editor-in-chief of Gambero Rosso, and Carlo Veronese, director of Consorzio Tutela Vini Oltrepò Pavese, took the opportunity to be there in person and guide us through the evening with lots of facts and a pleasant speech.
Accompanied by the attentive service of L’Unico and its excellent cuisine, this evening was an experience with a rich selection of wines.
The facts. The cheese.
Oltrepó Pavese is the largest cheese region in Italy. Gran Padano has been produced here since 1954 under a protected designation of origin called Grana Padano D.O.P. The cheese is made from 100% cow’s milk and undergoes two fermentations at 33 degrees and 46 degrees. According to Marco Sabellico, the cheese loses its lactose during the subsequent fermentation and maturation process, which lasts an average of 16 months. Grana Padano can therefore be described as the first lactose-free product. This method was invented by monks in the 12th century.
The facts. The wine.
Oltrepó Pavese is the largest wine-growing region in Lombardy. Its sparkling wines are famous, they are the focus of the region and are made from 70% Pinot Nero, Chardonnay is also used. In addition to Barbera, the Croatina grape is mainly used for red wines, producing cool, spicy wines that are sometimes slightly sparkling. The grape is better known as Bonarda and thus gave its name to the wines.
The structure of the wines is light, fresh, fruity and thus accompanies a rather hearty meal that is typical of the region.
We are curious to see whether the menu reflects the specifications.
Tuna tartare, mango, wasabi, lamb’s lettuce
The tuna is very strong, barely marinated, very delicious with the mango. Wasabi disturbs the delicate sparkling wines, it can be neutralised by the mango, but is not my first choice. The host’s opinion is reflected in a small smirking aside: „very Asian“. In my opinion, the lamb’s lettuce was a superfluous decoration.
145 Pinot Nero
Yeasty nose with brioche, replaced by green apple, strong acidity, very fine perlage, creamy texture on the finish.
Pinot Nero Nature
Aromas of green apple and hazelnuts dominate the nose, red berries and elderflower on the palate, very fresh, very green.
Isimbarda Blanc de Noir
Strong nose of hazelnuts, toast, black bread crust, very creamy texture, fine perlage, dark and fruity. Perfect with tuna.
Saffron risotto, butter, Gran Padano cheese
A completely new taste experience for me, the butter makes the risotto very creamy and changes the flavour in context.
It’s nice that there was no decoration at all.
Sea bream fillet, herb Gran Padano crust, potato, broccoli
The fish is very light, the crust is excellent with basil, bread and cheese. I liked the boiled potato as a neutraliser.
Beef tagliata, Gran Padano, Swiss chard, potato gratin
The meat is a poem, roasted to the point of medium, sprinkled with Parmesan shavings. Chard adds freshness, gratin gives fullness.
Bonarda La Briccona
Nose of bright red berries, slightly cool, dominated by sour cherry on the palate, slightly effervescent, dense flavours on the finish, very cool.
Bonarda Dell‘ Oltrepò Pavese, San Vinzeno di Fiocchi
Spicy nose, aromas of blackberry and liquorice, very soft and drinkable.
A very good accompaniment to the tagliata.
La Bonarda Gurini
Wet leaves on the nose, sour cherry, slightly musky, very balanced aftertaste with lots of cherry and herbs. A good accompaniment to fish.
Panna cotta, strawberry sauce
Very classic, a rather light background to the wine.
Sangue di Giuda
A red dessert wine that is vinified sweet with 6% alcohol by volume and 100g residual sugar.
Very light, flavours of blackberry, wet leaves, blueberry, balanced, the sweetness is restrained.
It was an evening with many insights in a beautiful setting with interested like-minded people and impressive ambassadors of the region.
The cuisine was rich and the team at L’Unico did a great job.
As the organisers wanted to emphasise the combination of cheese in the food and wine pairing, there was no detailed list of wines. For me personally, that was a unfortunate. However, a good reason to deal with the wines in another article.
The motto of the show „Born to be together“ was definitely fulfilled at the Frankfurt event.