Monday, April 12, 2010

Lunch With Angelo Gaja at Coppi Restaurant

Angelo Gaja is considered perhaps one of the greatest wine makers in Italy. Certainly he is pre-eminent. He is also considered one of the great winemakers of the world. Mr. Gaja was back in Toronto for the first time in 18 years and I was privileged to be included in a small private luncheon, hosted by Halperin Imports at Coppi Restaurant, that featured 20 bottles of different Gaja wines of different vintages. The Coppi chef created a wonderful lunch that went so well with the wines, creating dishes that I have never experienced at Coppi. He should keep some of those new dishes on his menu!!

We began with champagne enjoyed with spuntini of citrus cured sea bream crostini with arugula, lobster salad on endive with dried fruits, a very tasty crostini of fava bean puree with pecorino and mint and a wonderful rabbit terrine with raisin and toasted pistachio (which i could not get enough of) on a cucumber base.

Antipasti followed: beef carpaccio with shaved parmesan, yellow fin ahi tuna crudo with basil flavoured olive oil and scallion and a very good house made bresaola with fire roasted red peppers. We enjoyed a Brunello Rennina 2000, Incredibly forward fruit on the nose and palate, mildly tannic, very jammy and very balanced with a long finish. A wonderful wine with this dish.

The first main ("primo") was a fantastic plate of raviolone stuffed with braised beef cheek and porcini mushroom, finished with a chestnut, sun dried cranberry demi-glace and a perfectly cooked slow roasted marrow bone. Many of us asked for more marrow bones and the demi-glace that went with it!! A '93 Sperss was served. This wine was from a difficult vintage. It had a big middle and an adequate finish, was quite tannic, not well balanced, and had a modest fruit nose. We also enjoyed a '95 Sperss. This was a big wine, tannic, well balanced, with a long finish and ample fruit on the palate . This is a wine which will continue to develop, and is still very young. This wine went very well with the richness of the marrow and beef cheeks.

The next main ("secondo") was a very good brome lake duck breast with a compote of prune and grape with a blackberry reduction. We enjoyed an opulent '97 Sori San Lorenzo and a very good '95 Sori San Lorenzo. The '97 is a spectacular vintage, but, both of these wines are much too young to be enjoyed now and the '95 seemed quite closed.

An excellent refreshing intermezzo followed of basil and olive oil flavoured raspberry sorbet. What an interesting and perfect combination of flavours for this meal!

The 3rd course was a free range shank of Apsley Farm lamb served on top of truffled polenta and cippolini agro dolce. This was a dish of great flavours but the lamb was a touch dry. We enjoyed Conteisa '97 and '95 Barbaresco, both a bit young but nicely matched to the earthy flavoured lamb.

The chef at Coppi did justice to this major Italian winemaker. A memorable wine tasting and meal.

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