Wine review: From the house of Castello Banfi

Team Smartbuy | Updated on March 06, 2012 Published on March 06, 2012

The wine varietals on offer   -  BUSINESS LINE

The ravioli served at Prego   -  BUSINESS LINE

The delicious dessert platter   -  BUSINESS LINE

Different breads served at Prego   -  BUSINESS LINE

More than three decades ago, Castello Banfi set up his vineyard over 7,100 acres of land, rich in clay and calcium, in Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy. Now, the vineyard produces white, reds and sparklings that have earned it “Italy's Premier Vineyard Estate” award 11 times in a row. The company, which recently entered the Indian market, hosted a couple of journalists for lunch, with food which was specially paired with hand-picked wines from the estate.

Passed on and around the table was a bottle of Castello Banfi Le Rime. As the last crumbs of the olive-crusted mini-pizzas and freshly baked warm focaccia were whisked away from our table, our taste buds tingled in anticipation of the first wine for the day.

Harvested at the Castello Banfi estate, Le Rime is a mix of the grape varietals Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio. The estate uses free-run juice to avoid colour extraction from the skins. The grapes are gently pressed, followed by vinification “in bianco” or off the skins at a temperature of about 15-16°C and is stored in stainless steel tanks.

The white wine, pale yellow in colour, poured into our flutes was refreshing with a playful citrus hint. The bouquet came together beautifully, one that was both fruity and fragrant. The wine wasn't too acidic thus making it ideal as an aperitif. It pairs well with dishes prepared with fish, summer salads and light first courses as well. Chef Giovanni at Prego, Taj Coromandel, Chennai had lent her signature style to create a first course that would be the perfect accompaniment to Le Rime. You could sip the wine while tenderly digging into the soft, smoky and flavourful pecorino cheese soufflé with plum granite. The bread, tomato and onion salad was something we gave a miss to and chose the anchovies with basil pesto instead. The crunchy anchovies or ‘alici' were mildly flavoured, and were devoid of the characteristic strong taste that is usually imparted with while curing.

This wine is one of Banfi's most youthful white wines. The Chardonnay imparts roundness, while the Pinot Grigio adds crispness to this fresh and easy-to-drink wine.

The ruby red wine poured into our glasses as we were served the main course was a Chianti Classico. The wine is prepared with traditional varieties of Chianti Classico with a predominance of Sangiovese grapes and is fermented over a period of 8-10 days.

The red had an intense bouquet which consisted of a refreshing melange of notes, those of cherry, plum and violet. The palate was fresh and well-balanced with a supple amount of tannins and good acidity. The flavour of the wine inherently matches meat dishes and it went superbly well with the foie gras tortelli that was served. The delicate flavours of the rich, buttery foie gras wrapped in tortelli pasta were enhanced by the mildly sweet, soulful red. As an alternate, it could be had with spring onion tortelli or a potato puree with truffle flavoured poached egg. The alcohol content in Chianti Classico ranges between 12.5 to 13 per cent by volume. The wine can alternately be paired with red-sauce pastas, grilled meats and roasts.

We were presented with a dessert degustation menu to end the short, flavourful lunch with. Fresh pineapple, strawberries and kiwi, tiramisu, rice pudding and a dark chocolate tart made for an apt parting shot for the delicious Italian wines that preceded them.

Published on March 06, 2012
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