Wines Reviewed by Dwight Casimere October 16, 2013
photo gallery by Dwight Casimere
WASHINGTON, D.C.--Streets leading up to Capitol Hill were virtually devoid of traffic and pedestrians on what turned out to be the final day of the U.S. Government shutdown. While President Obama and Congressional leaders were making their announcements on the agreement to end the stalemate, a small group of wine journalists and trade officials were gathered in a private dining room at Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca, considered among the nation's 100 Best Restaurants. Bibbiano Chianti Classico was also presented to the media the previous evening in a special dinner at Spiaggia, on Chicago's Magnificent Mile, a restaurant favorite of President Obama and the First Lady.
Bibbiano proprietor Tommaso Marrocchesi Marzi is the fifth generation of the winery, located in Castelina-in-Chianti. The winery has been owned by the Marrocchesi Marzi family since 1865, but the history of the property actually goes back to 1089. With vineyards located on steep hillsides and in verdant valleys in calcareous clay and alberese stony soils in the Chianti Classico wine zone of Tuscany, this is a noble wine estate with spectacular wines. Surprisingly, most of the wines produced at Tenuta di Bibbiano sell for under $20, with average prices around $14-$16 a bottle. Tasting the wines with the cuisines of Bibiano Executive Chef Nicholans Stefanelli and his emphasis on regional Italian cuisine, the wines were a revelation, especially considering the high quality in relation to their reasonable price.
Four wines were presented, the 2010 Bibbiano Chianti Classico DOCG ($14), a young, vibrant ruby red wine that can be drunk everyday with just about anything your heart desires: pizza, salmon, roast chicken, and certainly pastas with your favorite red sauce-marinara comes to mind. Flavors of fresh , ripe red cherries and raspberries, literally dripping juice from the corners of your mouth with a final hint of Tahitian vanilla in the background. There's a new fresh taste with every sip that really intensifies in the presence of good food. Here, Chef Stefanelli pairs the wine with a fresh, tangy classic Roman salad called Misticanza, composed of tangy arugula, wild herbs and balsamic vinegar or 'aceto' as it's called in Italy. Another accompanying dish was a mouth-filling pasta soup, Pasta E Fagioli (bean soup) made with heft white beans, dusted with Parmesan cheese with a dollop of fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EEVO) as the grace note. This is the type of rustic meal, served with fresh, crusty homemade Italian bread, served warm, straight from the ovens, that is the mainstay of Cucina Italiano.
The next course, a pasta madeof Gnocchi (potato dumplings) made with smoked potatoes, seasonal vegetables and dusted with Parmesan cheese accompanied the spectacularly dark and elegant Bibbiano 2009 Chianti Classico DOPCG Montornello, a 100% Sangiovese, a native Tuscany grape, available at most wine shops and online at about $16. Ripe plum and rich dark cherry and tart cranberries combine with flavors of chewy figs and hints of crushed red rose petals and flavors in the back of the throat of Macanudo tobacco and hints of oak make this a well-balanced wine perfect for roasted meats, chicken cacciatore (hunter's stew), meaty lasagna and beef stew. Its a great wine to have with a hearty late fall or winter meal.
The main courses of Pollo; roasted free range chicken served with white polenta and mushroom ragu and Bue; grilled sirloin served with Anson Mills stone ground polenta, slow roasted sweet carrots and balsam was served with the centerpiece wine, Bibbiano 1999 Chianti Classico Reserva Capannino which breaks the bank at a still modest $22.50.
A special treat, which seemed as if offered as a small reward for the effort of taking a four-hour bus ride from Penn Station in New York in order to attend this special lunch, was the Vin Santo San Lorenzo $45), a late harvest wine which, unfortunately, is only available at the winery at Castelina-in-Chianti. Chef Stefanelli whipped up a mean Cioccolato; Chocolate Ganache Terrine with a crispy chocolate crust and a healthy scoop of his handmade vanilla/ginger ice cream. Lingering behind to taste the wine by itself, as good as the chocolate dessert was, it was obvious that this mildly honey-sweet beauty needs no accompaniment, only soft music and candlelight and the right companion.
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