What could be better than an Italian food and wine pairing? Last month a group of LA Wine Writers discovered Italian wines from the Taub Family Wine Selections at Marino Restaurant in Los Angeles. We toured across Italy like Stanley Tucci’s series “Searching for Italy,” where he visits different regions of Italy to discover the food that makes each area tick. Instead, we experience Italy through wine.
Our Italian food and wine adventure took us to four wineries from four different regions. They were Sella & Mosca in Sardinia, Mastroberardino in Compania, Rocca Delle Macie in Tuscany, and Beni di Batasiolo in Piedmont.
Sella & Mosca
Sella & Mosca is considered one of Italy’s most extensive contiguous vineyards and the largest estate in Europe. This 1600 acre wine estate boasts 1200-acres of vines in the northwest corner of Sardinia. The area received its DOC designation in 1995. The soils consist of iron-rich limestone, clay, and sand. Sella & Mosca is known for producing Vermentino and Cannonau, besides many international varieties.
The Mastroberardino family is responsible for the revival of native grapes and traditions in Campania’s Irpinian region. The winery was established in 1878 and concentrates on producing the indigenous varieties of Fiano, Greco, and Aglianico in three of Irpinia’s DOCG areas. Irpinia, an Alpine region features a continental climate, while bordering the Mediterranean and the foothills of the Apennine Mountains.
Beni di Batasiolo
Beni Di Batasiolo, owned by the Dogliani family, is the largest family-owned wine producer in the Piedmont region and has lived in the Langhe district for three generations. Barolo is their signature wine, and they produce five different crus grown in the hills of Monforte, Serralunga, and La Morra.
Rocca Delle Macie
The Zingarelli family has prided themselves in producing their wine for over 40 years. The name may seem very familiar because Italo Zingarelli was the successful film producer of spaghetti westerns. He purchased Rocca Delle Macie in Tuscany’s Chianti region in 1973. They helped champion the Chianti Classico DOCG and the Sangiovese grape.
Our Italian food and wine adventure could not have been made possible without the marvelous Italian cuisine of Marino Restaurant, a Los Angeles fixture since the 1950s. Now in its 2nd generation with Mario in the dining room and Sal in the kitchen, the restaurant continues to be a favorite in Hollywood. On this occasion, with Sal’s gracious hospitality, our four-course luncheon was superb.
Italian Food and Wine – Sparkling Wine
We began our journey with a sparkling wine from Sardinia, Sella & Mosca’s Torbato Brut Alghero DOC. The wine is produced with 100% Torbato, an indigenous grape of Sardinia, and created in the Charmat method.
Italian Food and Wine – Appetizer Course – White Wine
Sella & Mosca Monteoro Vermentino di Gallura Superiore DOCG 2020: Created with 100% Vermentino. The grapes grow on the slopes of Mount Limbara in the Gallura region of Sardinia. I found a fresh viscous wine with minerality and balance.
Mastroberardino Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Bianco DOC 2019: Lacryma Christi means tears of Christ. The legend goes, “God cried when he found a corner of heaven above the gulf of Naples, stolen by Lucifer. Where his divine tears fell, the vines of Lacryma Christi were born.” This area of Campania is known for its loose volcanic soils and is rich in minerals. Because the area is rich in minerals, the wine showcases lots of minerality. The wine consists of 100% Coda di Vol. Find notes of apple, pear, and citrus.
Mastroberardino Fiano di Avellino DOCG 2019: This wine had more depth and body than the other whites. The wine delivered flavors of citrus fruits, almonds, fresh herbs, and white flower.
Sal Marino served a lovely arugula salad with raw fish.
Italian Food and Wine – Pasta Course – Red Wine
What pasta dish does not go with Chianti? Sal Marino created pasta with a tomato sauce. This course was paired with three wines from Rocca Delle Macie.
Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva Familia Zingarelli 2018: Blending 90% Sangiovese with 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Colorino. This wine aged 24 months in French oak followed by three months in bottle. This Chianti is the flagship wine of Rocca Delle Macie. The grapes come from four estates in the Castellina area. Although small, the Cabernet Sauvignon stands out. I found aromas of earth and tobacco, and on the palate, the wine exhibits a nice balance that showcases cherry and sour cherry flavors with hints of spicy pepper.
Chianti Classico DOCG Tenuta Sant’Alfonso 2018: This wine represents a single Vineyard and consists of 100% Sangiovese. The wine exhibits ripe red fruit on the nose and flavors of dark cherry that accentuates the structure and smoothness of the wine.
Chianti Classico DOCG DOCG Riserva di Fizzano Gran Selezione 2018: This wine consists of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Colorino. The soils of the Fizzano vineyard are sandy and pebbly. The wine delivers aromas of wild berries and flavors of fresh ripe fruit.
Italian Food and Wine – Main Course – Wines of Beni di Batasiolo
Osso Bucco with Polenta was accompanied by three wines from Piedmont and the Beni di Batasiolo wines.
Barbaresco DOCG 2017: Consisting of 100% Nebbiolo, the wine ages 12 months in Slavonian and French oak and an additional 12 months in stainless steel. I considered this the more elegant wine of the three. I loved the spices that accented the wine.
Barolo DOCG 2016: Composed of 100% Nebbiolo, this wine ages for 24 months in Slavonian oak casks followed by one year in stainless steel. I found a smooth, more bold wine as compared to the Barbaresco.
Barolo DOCG Briccolina 2013: The Nebbiolo for this wine comes from a single vineyard. The wine ages 24 months in French oak, followed by a year in stainless steel. Of the three wines from Beni di Batasiolo, this was the biggest and most full-bodied.
Italian Food and Wine – Pizza Course – Wine Finale
An Italian Food and Wine pairing must have pizza, and in this case, the pizza was like eating dessert. This cheese pizza sans tomato sauce but plus truffles. The Truffles made it seem like a decadent dessert. Watching Sal grate the truffle on the pizza grabbed all our attention.
Sella & Mosca Marchese di Villamarina Alghero DOC 2014. The Cabernet Sauvignon aged for 18 months in French oak, 50% new and 50% second use, followed by a year in bottle. The wine displays red fruit on the nose and black currant on the palate.
Mastroberardino “Naturalis Historia” Aglianico 2011: The name “Naturalis Historia” comes from Pliny the Elder’s magnum opus, considered the most extensive works detailing ancient knowledge that survived the Roman Empire. The name is apropos because Aglianico is an ancient grape that has also survived for thousands of years.
Aglianico is the ultimate expression of the rich, volcanic Irpinian soil and in this case, sourced from a single vineyard. The wine aged 24 months in French oak, followed by an additional 30 months in bottle. Although the vintage is 2011, the wine still could use more time aging. I found a very complex and intense wine. On the nose, the wine displayed black currant, blackberry, cherry, and mocha. On the palate, the wine exhibited flavors of plum and cherry with hints of spices.
As our Italian food and wine luncheon came to an end and feeling satiated, we left, hoping this was a sign that our group would soon be resuming our educational wine tastings again.
Note: Common to the wine industry, this writer received a hosted lunch and tasting. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure.