FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Robert Patchen, chef and owner of Southport’s Paci Restaurant, recently treated a group of 50 fine food and wine aficionados to a sumptuous and sold-out repast of six special courses, each accompanied by a beautiful Italian wine.
David Squires, a representative of Aventine Hills Wine Importers and Paci’s former wine director, selected and provided the wines. And all are available from Cory D’Addario of Liquor Locker of Westport.
Squires called his two co-hosts “two of my favorite accounts — retail and restaurant.”
Aventine Hills “knows the families of the winemakers and we’re proud of all of them.”
All the wines are small labels, produced by family vintners using their own grapes, Squires added. “I want to let the wines speak for themselves.”
And the feast began. First a Crostini, a cannellini bean puree on semolina toast for which Squires had chosen a 2015 Castle Sallegg Pinot Bianco, a “very plain precise and pure wine” from the north of Italy — “where all the excitement in white wine is.” He added “Italians export Pinot Grigios and drink Pinot Biancos themselves.”
A ravioli course followed — a beautiful one filled with three types of mushrooms, and served with a 2014 Isidoro Polencic, Chardonnay, ‘Collio.’ This vintner recently started making its own wines, after seeing others use their grapes to get famous. “This one gives anything from California and Burgundy a run for its money.”
The third was Violetta di Firenze Melanze, a beautiful lightly sautéed and batter dipped Italian eggplant served with a 2014 Tenuta Giustini, ‘Quis.’ It’s made from a red Negroamaro grape, and is a wine never before imported to the U.S.
And to the Piatti Principali — a truly tender center cut pork loin, lightly breaded with Ciabatta breadcrumbs, served with a garden fresh sauce, topped with shaved Pecorino Romano, and complemented by a 2014 Cantine Lupo, Merlot, ‘Primolupo,’ another label not previously available here.
“This grape has been maligned for a long time, while this label will prove that Merlot is back.”
The Controfiletto, a dry-aged sirloin, served sliced with vegetable soufflé and truffle crostini, and enhanced by a 2012 Casa Emma, Chianti Classico, ‘Vignalparco’ made from Sangiovessi grapes hand picked over many passes through the vineyard.
And the last, a plate of four cheeses, served with a 2010 Croce di Mezzo, Brunello Reserva di Montalcino, “the vintage of the decade,” and one not widely available.