When we were in Amalfi, we picked up a few bottles of Sergio Zenato Riserva Amarone Classico DOC 2001. It was the best wine we had ever tasted, and remains our favourite to this day. D found a few bottles of the 2004 and they are ageing nicely in our wine chiller for a few years before we decide to indulge ourselves.
We were invited recently by Ponti Wines to a Zenato Wine Dinner at the Imperial Treasure Super Peking Duck Restaurant last Thursday. Four Zenato wines were to be paired with a Chinese menu – something they said they’d tried before and felt worked. Call me old fashioned but I’m still not convinced this is the case. However, we were eager to try more Zenato wines, and also got to meet the daughter of the late Sergio Zenato who handles the marketing for the small, family-run company.
The dinner was an intimate affair in a private room, with just D and I and two other guests, along with the Ponti Wine representative, and Nadia Zenato, a beautiful Italian woman, who exuded the famed Italian style. The dinner itself was good – unremarkable and for that type of establishment, I would say even disappointing, but it was for the wine that we attended, and it was the wines that we got.
We started with Zenato San Benedetto Lugana DOC 2009. For such a young wine, this wine, made with 100% Trebbiano di Lugana grapes, was a light, refreshing way to begin the evening.
It was followed by the Zenato Pinot Grigio IGT delle Venezie 2008. 100% Pinot Grigio grapes, fermented for just 15-20 days before aging in stainless steel tanks for 6 months, this was crisp and fresh and a perfect accompaniment to the Four Treasures Platter we were served – cold starters.
The food and wine pairing attempt fell apart at this point and for food we were served prawn ball with egg white and hairy crab roe, where the prawn was suspiciously ridiculously crunchy, making us cringe at the soda bicarbonate trick to “freshen seafood”, and sauteed pea’s leaf with bamboo shoot. This was paired with Zenato Ripassa Valpolicella Superiore DOC 2006. 80% Corvina, 10% Sangiovese and 10% Rondinella, the wine is “passed over” the semi=dried skins from the amorone. This makes for a more intense flavour but the wine would have been perfectly acceptable if it weren’t put side by side with the next two wines.
Pan-fried sea perch with asparagus, roasted Beijing Duck and braised pork with brown sauce and vegetable rice followed with the last two wines of the evening. The Zenato Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2006 – a full bodied, liquorice and berry flavoured wine with little tannins, was a gorgeous wine. The Zenato Sergio Zenato Riserva Amarone Classico DOC 2004 though, was the clear winner of the night. Zenato only make the reserva from their best years – 80% Corvina, 10% Rondinella, 5% Molinara and 5% Sangiovese it’s a big, ricjly textured wine – spicy and oaky. To be paired with big meats – a good steak, rich pastas or even chocolate – this is the ultimate wine for us.
This evening reminded us that amarone is, while not to everyone’s taste, certainly is to our palettes and we look forward to meeting Nadia again in Venetto next year when we plan to visit the Zenato vineyard. Ah bliss.