Christmas drinks in Melbourne, Montalcino, Soave & La Morra

Thankfully, Australia has (mostly) moved beyond the absurdly traditional turkey with all the trimmings and plum pudding for Christmas lunch. When it’s 30 degrees, it’s a big ask to eat like that, especially before a swim and backyard cricket. We much prefer crayfish, prawns and plenty of the sparkling wine. On our wine list this Christmas is a selection of sparkling wines: Bellavista (of course), Erpacrife’s awesome nebbiolo spumante, Poderi Colla’s rare Brut (a personal favourite of mine), and lots of Marcarini Moscato d’Asti to start and finish the day. There’ll be Riesling from Neil Pike (as always), Pieropan’s Calvarino and Vintage Tunina from Silvio Jermann. From the cellar, Michael has dug out some 2001 Costanti Brunello and one of his favourites, Vigna del Nocio 2000 from Boscarelli. Given that it’s a 2000, I’ve threatened to come around on Christmas morning just to taste the wine! I’m hoping it’s not too hot for a recently acquired bottle of Dal Forno Valpolicella.

So whilst we are sunning ourselves, our friends In Italy will dig their way through the snow to get inside and mill around the fireplace. Here’s what’s on the menu at three of Italy’s great wine estates, with some translations when needed.

COSTANTI in Montalcino, Tuscany, from Andrea Costanti

Andrea says lunch for 25 will be una rara e bellissima occassione di stare tutti insieme, a rare and beautiful occasion when we will all be together. The freschissimo seafood is from a friends restaurant in Castiglione della Pescaia on the Maremman coast. Lunch will be prepared by Andrea and Angela and – this sounds great in Italian – totalmente innaffiato da Bellavista, totally immersed in Bellavista.

Antipasti di pesce crudo (raw seafood): ostriche, gamberi, scampi and carpaccio of red mullet, palamita (bonito) and ricciola (kingfish)

Antipasti del polpo (octopus)

Bellavista Gran Cuvee 2004 ex magnum

Spaghetti with calamaretti di penna

Branzino al sale (Sea Bass baked in salt)

Bellavista Convento dell’Annunciata and Ucellanda ex magnum

Panettone e dolci secchi tipici Senesi


PIEROPAN in Soave, Veneto, from Andrea Pieropan

The Pieropan’s will be celebrating the birth of Anna, Andrea’s new baby girl and the first bambina in the Pieropan family for 100 years. Welcome Anna.

Zuppa di porri con melograni (leek and pomegranate)

Tortellini di Valeggio in brodo

Pasticcio di carne

Pieropan la Rocca 1998 ex magnum

Arrosto di Maiale con patate al latte e radicchio di Treviso

Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1988

Domaine de Montille Volnay Le Mitans 1er cru 1998

Ofella di Perbellini (typical Pandoro from Veneto)

Semifreddo alle scorze d’arancia

Saracco Moscato d’Autunno 2009

Frutta di stagione mandarini, noci, pistacchi, mandorle

Pieropan Recioto di Soave Le Colombare 1988

Caffe and Grappa

Not just any coffee and grappa. Andrea says the coffee prepared by Nino is a ‘process’, beginning with the correct warming of the machine and the cups, then a mix of three different beans. And the Grappa is a special distillation of the vinacce (skins) from their Recioto di Soave.

MARCARINI in La Morra, Piedmont, from Manuel Marchetti

Manuel Marchetti, the gentleman of La Morra, reports that his Christmas menu has already started – now that’s what I like! From a very cold La Morra, blanketed in snow, Manuel has just finished the skin maceration of his two Barolo’s and is pleased with the result, reporting great tannins and colour.

The Christmas menu began early with their neighbour, a truffle hunter, supplying some of Alba’s finest truffles that were served on fried eggs and home made tajarin – simple and beautiful, the best way to enjoy them. And the wines were his Barolo Brunate 2003 and La Serra 1992. The 1992, a poorly rated vintage, was wonderful. Good wine from bad vintages = great wine in my opinion.

Manuel says there is more to come……

I wish I could be Santa for a day and pop in to everyone’s houses for a taste of these menus! To all our friends around the world, Buon Natale and here’s to 2011.

What’s on your menu?