The Vancouver International Wine Festival brought Italy to Vancouver this year. The festival hosted 156 wineries from 14 countries, and poured over 1, 450 bottles of wine. Wine lovers tasted vino at the Convention Centre, attended educational seminars, and sat down to combine a love for wine and food at various celebratory dinners.
Among the celebrated events was the ’50 Years of Campofiorin’ dinner. Folks gathered at the new Glowbal restaurant on West Georgia Street to feast on a menu prepared by Executive Chef Pedro Gonzalez. Chef Gonzalez began his culinary journey in order to bring food lovers together. Between food-inspiring gigs in the Bay area of California and Las Vegas, Gonzalez is excited to be continuing his journey on the west coast in the city of Vancouver, which is brimming with a thriving food scene filled with fresh local seafood and produce.
The focus winery for the ’50 Years of Campofiorin’ dinner was Masi Agricola. Hailing from northern Italy and with over 240 years of family winemaking, one can conclude that winemaking is in their blood. “We come from Verona,” stated Raffaele Boscaini, who is the Director of Marketing for Masi, “and my family has made wine since 1772.”
The Campofiorin dinner is special because of the history of making this unique wine. According to the website dedicated to this spectacular vino, Campofiorin is “an original creation from Masi dating back to 1964 [and] Campofiorin is recognised internationally as the forerunner of a new category of Venetian wines made with the Appassimento method.”
“Masi comes from ‘Vaio dei Masi’,” continued Raffaele. “This is where the name came from. It means ‘valley of Masi’.” As the crowd sipped their first wine – the Masi Campofiorin 1997 – Raffaele stood in front of a crowd of about 50 people, and explained how important the ’50 Years of Campofiorin’ dinner was. “Tonight we are celebrating 50 years of our flagship wine Campofiorin,” Boscaini said. “Canada is a very successful region for us with the wine. It’s a wine of using the technique called ripasso [and] Amarone is the father [of Campofiorin].”
Raffaele Boscaini and I sat beside one another during dinner. We chatted about the winery, and about how Masi is received all over the globe. Raffaele stated, “One of the most important wines we make is Amarone.”
Of all the countries in the world, Canada is “the biggest export market [for Masi], followed by Sweden and the UK”. Yes, we do love our wine here in Canada, and I know we love our Italian wine, too.
The dinner was delightful. With 6 dishes to set the tone, I knew I was in for a full belly later that evening.
The first course was a Mushroom Carpaccio, with torta di mascarpone, pinenut brittle, and truffle honey served with Masi Campofiorin 1997. A wonderful 1st course that was both rich and complex. The wine brought out the complex flavours of the mushroom, and before I even knew it, it had disappeared. The 1997 Campofiorin was a beautiful blend of dark chocolate cherries, cigar box, and hints of mocha. Graceful hints of raisin made its way through on the finish, which showed the loveliness of this almost 20 year old wine.
Onto the next culinary delight was the Cured Foie and Seared Scallop with pickled cabbage, duck confit, and cauliflower puree. Masi Campofiorin 2007 graced the glasses. The cherry and vanilla, in addition to the cranberry and wet tobacco notes, went surprisingly well with the scallop.
Wine poached Monkfish, artichoke and kale compote, and sunchokes were up for the third plate alongside the Masi Campofiorin 2012. The kale was almost raw in texture, and its greenness paired well with the acidity in the wine. Blackcherry, black pepper, and hints of vanilla made this 2012 vintage quite layered. Its plush red fruits on the palate and smooth tannins matched the texture of the fish and firmness of the sunchokes.
The 4th course included Braised Lamb Cheek with goats cheese and fontina ravioli with buerre rouge. (Oh, yes!) The Masi Costasera Amarone (Barrel Release) 2012 was poured into our glasses. So. Complimentary. A match made in heaven on all fronts. The concentrated, precise vino made it all so easy to enjoy. Blackcurrant, blueberry, spice, hints of mocha, anise, and dark chocolate on the bouquet made this wine a delight to sip, but the added dry tobacco, rose petal, and black pepper notes on the palate made me ask for another pour. The lamb cheek was perfectly tender, and made a genuinely unforgettable pairing all the more enjoyable.
The dishes kept coming. Next up was the Snake River Farms Eye of Ribeye, buttered leeks, bone marrow brulee, heirloom carrots, and Masi Costasera Amarone 2007. A well done dish which extracted the smokey vanilla, blackberry creme, and peppery notes from the vino. This vintage of Amarone boasted complex notes of spices, dried fruits, and dark chocolate. When it comes to beef-based dishes like ribeye, you cannot go wrong with a well-rounded Amarone.
Dessert finally arrived, and while I was gratefully full, I couldn’t resist the Chocolate Galaxy, apricot sorbet, saffron anglaise and Masi Costasera Amarone 1997. The name really just says it all, doesn’t it? Let’s say it together. Chocolate Galaxy. At this point, I didn’t have much room in my belly (other than for wine), but it was a great way to finish the evening.