Banfi & PierLuigi at Toscanini

At The Wine Rack

with Christopher Reckord

Thursday, May 25, 2017

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I was reminded during a recent trip to Italy of how patriotic people were in their wine selections. It's elementary, really: you live in Tuscany, you mainly drink wines from Tuscany. When a wine producer from Tuscany wants to host an Italian wine dinner in Jamaica the venue list must include multi-award-winning restaurant Italian restaurant Toscanini.

Thankfully, the North-South highway makes it effortless to attend an event on the border of St Mary and Ocho Rios, and as such we were able to attend and experience The King of Tuscany event with wines by Castello di Banfi and a six-course dinner prepared by Pierluigi 'PG' Ricci, chef/patron, Toscanini.

A delicious affair

Chef Pierluigi Ricci dug deep and outdid himself as he delivered one impressive course after the next, starting with an elegantly delicate tartar called Triple Crown of Seafood. This was followed by an ever-evolving ackee and baccala crepe with basil pesto, and then the risotto lido di Venezia. The main meat dish was the trendy Italian plate known as Tagliata di Manzo — thinly sliced, tasty and very tender steak, which was paired with its famous wine-pairing partner and the highlight wine of the evening, the 2012 Poggio Alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino.

Banfi wines

A few of these wines were specially imported by Caribbean Producers Jamaica (CPJ) for this dinner, like the fresh well-balanced Italian sparking wine Cuvée Aurora, which is made in the exact same manner as Champagne — using hand-picked Pinot noir (70%) and Chardonnay (30%). The La Pettegola Vermentino, with its 100 % vermentino grapes from vineyards located in the Maremma zone of Southern Tuscany, was the perfect complement to the first course.

New to me, and one of my favourites of the evening, it is an aromatic, fresh clean wine to drink. The second pour was the San Angelo Pinot Grigio, the fruity, fresh and reliable crowd-pleaser. Another discovery for me that evening was the Banfi Fontanelle Chardonnay; it's a softer, gentler Chardonnay with hints of tropical fruits that went well with the risotto. Poured with the veal was an interesting red wine made with a grape — a vine cross of Nebbiolo and Barbera, Piedmont's two most important grapes —called Albarossa, Italian for 'red dawn.' La Lus Albarossa is velvety, full-bodied and harmonious with soft tannins. I liked this wine a lot and will consider buying a case.

Brunello di Montalcino

With only enough bottles imported for the dinner, this 2012 Poggio Alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino was a beautiful, well-structured. rustic medium-bodied red wine with supple tannins made with 100% Sangiovese. The wine was aged for a minimum of four years, including at least 24 months in oak; it had a further two years aging in the bottle before releasing. This 2012 vintage is still young, but this wine is very age-worthy. I first discovered Banfi's Brunello di Montalcino when a friend and former business partner of mine tasted a 1997 Banfi Brunello and had an “aha” moment. Not being a big wine drinker, he was surprised how this wine caused him to look up and take notice of Italian wines and his enthusiasm caused me to pay attention to Brunello di Montalcino ever since.

An added bonus was that we had Poggio Alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino poured from a double-magnum (a bottle that holds the capacity of four regular bottles). It was also poured from the standard 750ml bottle and there was great debate as to which one tasted better. My vote was that it was too early to tell as these bottles were recently released, but the large formats are always better for long-term aging.

A delicious evening ended with a subtly sweet Florus Late Harvest Moscadello served with the delightful Tortino di Cioccolato. Moscadello, a clone of Moscato, has been grown for centuries in the Montalcino area in Tuscany.


Christopher Reckord - Information Technology Entrepreneur & Wine Enthusiast. Send your questions and comments to You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram @chrisreckord and on Twitter: @Reckord




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