Several weeks ago, pre-Arctic blast that truly turned Chicago into Chiberia, I attended a really lovely luncheon at Gibson’s Italia to learn, taste and sip products, part of – Enjoy European Quality (EEQ), a 3-year project cofounded by the European Union.
The EEQ campaign is designed to increase the awareness and recognition of European quality products within the food and wine sector with wines promoted by the Consorzio di Tutela dell’Asti D.O.C.G., cured deli meat from the Istituto Valorizzazione Salumi Italiani and cheese from Consorzio Tutela Provolone Valpadana D.O.P.
From upper left and clockwise in this picture, Provolone Valpadana Piccante DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta DOP – Translates to PDO in English, Protected Designation of Origin), Prosciutto di Carpegna DOP, Salame Felino IGP ((Indicazione Geografica Protetta IGP – Translates to PGI in English, Protected Geographical Indication). Italy is the land of cold cuts and cheese. Asti DOCG were the perfect wine accompaniments.
It truly was a salumi, cheese and Asti fest. One of the things I learned, which is perfect for the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday is that provolone is a cheeky cheese: it contains phentolamine, a chemical substance produced by our brain when we fall in love, responsible for the sense of happiness and wellness. So perhaps provolone needs to be included in any Valentine’s Day meal or every meal?
In terms of cold cuts, there are about 700 different cold cuts recorded throughout the 20 regions of Italy. The Romans were the ones who started to preserve meats through drying. There are 43 GI (Geographically Indication) cold cuts (21 PDO and 22 PGI).
The Mortadella Bologna IGP, for example, which is cooked pork rather than dried and one of my favorite Italian cold cuts. You can go to the link to understand the detail and history behind the cold cut. To accompany all this food, ASTI Docg wine was poured.
Moscato D’Asti, Balbi Soprani, Santo Stefano Belbo. Moscato D’Asti, the delicate, slightly sparkling wine with beautiful floral aromas, for me, is like biting into a ripe peach from the farmer’s market at the end of summer with a bit of lemon and sage added. 5.5% ABV with a sweet finish. It is in Moscato D’Asti that the flavors of the Moscato Bianco grapes grown on the steep hills of the area, really shine.
All Asti wines be it Asti Dolce (sweet and spumante), Asti Secco (dry and spumante) or Moscato D’Asti (sweet and frizzante) are made with 100% Moscato Bianco grapes. The region is known for growing the highest quality moscato grapes. The geographical zone for growth and production of Asti wines which includes 52 municipalities in the provinces of Asti, Alessandria and Cuneo, is in the core zone of the beautiful UNESCO “Viticultural Landscapes of Langhe-Roero and Monferrato” World Heritage Site.
Following the recognition of ASTI Spumante as a controlled and guaranteed designation of origin wine (1 of 74 DOCG throughout Italy), a distinction was established between ASTI (DOLCE) and MOSCATO d’ASTI, while ASTI SECCO was officially granted D.O.C.G. status in 2017.
ASTI Dolce D.O.C.G.(sweet) has a characteristic grapes, fruity flavor, well-balanced sweetness and acidity along with a moderate alcohol content. The style of ASTI Secco D.O.C.G. (dry) was developed with the assistance of the Consorzio’s Research Lab (Consorzio dell’Asti DOCG) and is characterized by particularly fine and persistent beading. Dry ASTI offers a fresh mouthfeel which makes it suitable as an aperitif as well as a full-meal wine. ASTI SECCO now provides an opportunity for people who prefer a dry finish, an ability to appreciate all the lovely floral aromas and fruit flavors but on “the dry side”.
At the luncheon there was an opportunity to sample several producers’ wines.
Matteo Soria, Bric Prima Bella, ASTI Extra Dry, located in Castiglione Tinella, one of the prime growing area for the Moscato Bianco grape. The wine is aged on the lees for 6 months and made the traditional way using the Martinotti method. For those loving life on the dry side, the white flower aromas and white peach, 11% ABV with a very long dry finish paired really well with the truffle risotto.
Arione, Spumante, ASTI Docg SECCO extra dry. 4 generations of family are running the Arione winery in Castiglione Tinella in the Langhe region. TOSTI 1820, ASTI Docg SECCO, Le Lucciole (organic vineyard). 7 generations of the Bosca family are running Tosti which produced the wine we tasted from their organic vineyard, Le Lucchiole in Castiglione Tinella. Pictured at the end of this post is Acquesi Asti Docg SECCO.
These dry Asti spumantes worked really well with the risotto and truffles.
How can these presenters not be happy when they are working with such delicious products?
I truly believe great wine and food brings great people together and this was the case for this luncheon. I was very wine and food lucky! Yet again, there are so many intriguing, tasty, historical, place specific wine and food products in Italy to try, yet so little time……