Dinner and the Wines of Conte Brandolini
at Venice’s Bar Naranzaria

VistortaDuring a recent visit to Venice, we met up with an old friend, Conte Brandino Brandolini D’Adda, the owner of the Vistorta estate located in the heart of Western Friuli.  Brandino produces some lovely wines that we first tasted in Washington DC a few year’s ago.  This time we met on the picturesque Grand Canal in Venice where we tasted the latest vintages of his wines with a variety of delicious dishes served at his Bar Naranzaria

Venetian-born and a graduate of Texas A&M and the University of Bordeaux, Brandino began making wine at his family’s estate in the 1980s.  He has been working with his close friend and colleague Georges Pauli, winemaker at Chateau Gruaud-Larose and consultant to other Bordeaux estates.  During the last 30 years Brandino has implemented many improvements on his estate including the planting of new Merlot clones from Bordeaux and a system of high-density planting.  More recently, he adopted organic practices that he hopes will bring further improvements in his wines.  In addition to the 500 acre Vistorta estate, Brandino owns the 325 acre Cordignano estate in the nearby province of Treviso, where he grows Tocai, Refosco, Merlot and Pinot Grigio.

Rialto BridgeBrandino’s Bar Narazzaria is a tiny bar/restaurant located in a secluded spot along side the historic Rialto Bridge (pictured here). It is also situated next to fruit, vegetable and fish markets and among the old warehouses where goods from the trade with the orient were once stored.  Veteran chef Douglas Aguira, originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil, prepares magnificent small dishes of fresh fish, vegetables, and savory meats.  Aguira’s dishes are a fusion of Asian and Mediterranean influences.  Simple yet elegant and rich with taste, these dishes were great accompaniments to the wines.

We began our tasting with the Conte Brondolini 2011 Friulano, a wine made of 100% Tocai Friulano.  It revealed fragrant orchard fruit, almond and honey aromas, a light creamy mouth feel with high acidity and a crisp finish.  It was paired with cold salmon sashimi, soy and watercress, which turned out to be a perfect combination.  We then turned to the Conte Brandolini 2011 Pinot Grigio.  Aromatic and fresh tasting, this Pinot Grigio exhibited a light apple and refreshing herbal character with medium-high acidity that was perfect for Gambrone Sicilia, a large raw shrimp served with a little roe,  sesame, seaweed and light spicy sesame oil.  A spicy marinated squid also worked beautifully with the Pinot Grigio. The Conte Brandolini 2010 Bianco, a blend of Tocai, Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco revealed fresh orchard fruit and toasted oak aromas and flavors with medium acidity and a crisp finish.  This lovely wine paired beautifully with a plate of octopus salad, warm potatoes and radicchio di Treviso, an Italian classic. 

TreanniSwitching to reds, we began with a Conte Brandolini NV Treanni, a Rosso from Venezia Giulia that blends Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Refosco from different vintages. This is a delicious, medium-bodied, red berry, fruit-forward wine that is elegant on the palate with soft round tannins and good balance.  It is easy to drink and a perfect accompaniment to a savory crema di fagioli with radicchio di Treviso wrapped in bacon.  The Vistorta 2007 Merlot came last.  It is the top of the line wine made from the Merlot that does so beautifully on the estate’s clay and limestone soils. It features rich red fruit aromas on the nose with nicely integrated plum, black cherry fruit and French oak on the palate. It has good fruit concentration and firm tannins with hints of chocolate on the finish.  This wine was beautifully paired with savory duck confit and horseradish sauce. With some time in the glass the Merlot showed rich and generous with a long persistent fruity finish.

At the conclusion of our magnificent meal, Chef Aguira treated us to a glass of the 2004 Samuel Timon Tokaj Aszú, a delicious dessert wine of light apricot flavors, creamy mouth feel, and perfect acidity. Produced by Frenchman Samuel Timon with assistance from winemaker Alec Ongaro, it is one of our favorite dessert wines. 

Conte Brandolini’s U.S. Importer is Palm Bay International, Boca Raton, FL

Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler

April 2012