The i-WineReview’s 10th Anniversary Lunch at Assaggi with Bellavista

Assaggi OsteriaThe International Wine Review turns ten in 2015. We kicked off our year-long celebration of our 10th Anniversary with a delicious Italian lunch at Assaggi Osteria, our favorite Italian restaurant in McLean, Virginia.

On short notice, Domenico Cornaccia, chef/proprietor of Assaggi whipped up a stellar lunch to pair with three bottles of Bellavista sparkling, which is imported by TMT Bellevista is one of Franciacorta’s finest sparklers and Italy’s challenge to Champagne as we noted in an earlier article.

Domenico CornacciaFor starters, Domenico served appetizers of creamy burrata, slices of mortadella and a Venetian baccalà mantecato served with fresh, crispy crusted bread. The mild flavors of these dishes paired beautifully with the gently effervescent and lush Bellavista 2009 Satèn. The creamy Chardonnay fruit and subtle notes of toast and nuts of the Satèn makes it a highly versatile and elegant starter to any meal.

The next course was pan-fried scallops, crispy on the outside and beautifully moist inside, served on a sauce of mashed, dried fava beans with tiny bits of culatello (the center of prosciutto). This dish we paired with the Bellavista 2008 Brut. It’s assertive bead of toasted grain served as the perfect foil to the caramelized scallops and smoky culatello.

For the next course, Domenico prepared fresh, house-made tagliatelle with black trumpet mushrooms, cauliflower bits, and Parmesan cheese all bathed in a light coating of truffle butter. This we paired with our very favorite Bellavista, the 2007 Pas Operé, a super-refined and elegant, mineral-edged sparkling wine with just a hint of hazelnut.

Final plateThe final plate of the lunch was roasted cod served over olive oil mashed potatoes with black olives, oven-roasted tomatoes, capers and parsley. The saltiness of the cod and savory character of the dish required the most assertively flavored Bellavista, so we went back to the 2008 Brut and were glad we did for it paired beautifully with the cod.

Readers not familiar with Bellavista should try it for the Holidays. There are six different cuvées to choose from, and all are magnificent. Bellevista is more costly than other sparkling Italians wines, especially Prosecco, but the difference is surely worth it. And it is perfect for celebrating a happy occasion with marvelous Italian food as we did at Assaggi.

For more on the fine sparkling wines of Franciacorta, see our recent review article.

Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler

December 2014

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