In early July, my family and I attended a dinner for the wine producers of Oltrepò Pavese, Lombardy. It was organized by the consortium for Oltrepò DOC wines and held at the Enoteca Regionale della Lombardia.
The Enoteca Regionale is fairly close to my house at Cassino Po. It was projected and funded by the Region of Lombardy to create a centre showcasing agricultural products, wine and beer produced in Lombardy. Producers can exhibit and sell their products, organize tastings and have their products offered on the menu in the restaurant as well.
The restaurant and bar offers unique dishes that only use ingredients from local farmers, butchers, wine producers etc.
About thirty wine producers showed up for the aperitivo and dinner to kick off another harvest season which starts around the end of August. Everyone brought a few bottles of their own wine to accompany the set menu provided by the Enoteca. Among the wine producers present were my husband and father-in-law representing Bertè Cordini and Cantine Montagna, our friends from Prime Alture, and Azienda Agricola Calatroni. Journalists from Gambero Rosso were also present to taste the new vintages.
We started off with a light vegetable flan topped with duck carpaccio. Then we were served a risotto with saffron and sausage. The third dish was ricotta stuffed ravioli in a gazpacho-like tomato sauce and served with burrata. The fourth dish was tender beef jowl (or “guanciale”) with a side of Napolean potatoes. The dessert consisted of a sponge cake, thick chantilly cream, fresh berries and mint.
We were seated outside in the courtyard of the Enoteca. Throughout the dinner, everyone passed around bottles of wine to pair with every dish. Some local wines tasted were Bonarda, Champagne-style Spumante (Metodo Classico), Pinot Noir and Riesling.
FANCY CHAMPAGNE TIME
To conclude the evening, a few people brought out some rather valuable wines to taste. My husband brought a magnum bottle of Drappier Champagne and a very exclusive bottle of his father’s Metodo Classico Pinot Noir Spumante from 1979. Everyone who tasted it blindly were shocked to know it was a thirty-seven year old wine because it still had fresh, crisp notes and bubbles intact.
If you happen to be in the Milano area, I highly suggest visiting the “Tuscany of Northern Italy” Oltrepò Pavese for its under-the-radar, yet exceptional wines like Bonarda and Cruasé Metodo Classico Spumante. If you don’t have a lot of time to travel around the Oltrepò to visit all its wineries and local restaurants, stop at the Enoteca Regionale della Lombardia to find it all and enjoy.