Vintage Vespa: Podere Brizio Brunello Dinner

Brunello needs no introduction for the oenophiles. Quintessential, coveted Italian wines, coming from the heart of Tuscany, made from the signature Italian grape Sangiovese (Sangiovese Grosso clone, to be precise). Brunello di Montalcino was the first area in Italy which received in 1980 the status of DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita), top quality level designation for the Italian wines; Brunello are some of the most expensive wines coming from Italy today, with some of the bottle prices exceeding $500 on the release (Biondi Santi, Soldera). Wines had been produced in Montalcino for a very long time, going back to the middle ages – it is said that King Charlemagne frequented hills and taverns of the beautiful region – however, back then Montalcino was known for its white wine, called Moscadello. In the 1600s, the red Brunello started to take over the Moscadello, and today, most of the people don’t even know that the white wines are produced in the Montalcino region,  as it is the powerful reds we all associate Montalcino with.

Podere Brizio WinesPodere Brizio is a relatively young estate in Montalcino, founded in 1996. The estate has about 30 acres of vineyards, practices sustainable viticulture and in the process of becoming certified organic. The grapes are harvested by hand, natural yeasts are used in the winemaking process. Folks at Podere Brizio love the Montalcino history so much that they put “10 Parpagliola coin, coined in 1556 as a symbol of the Republic of Siena in a year in which about 600 noble Sienese families took refuge in the fortress of our town in order to keep the Sienese Republic alive” on the labels of their wines. Podere Brizio produces about 50,000 bottles annually, with the whole production consisting of 3 red wines – Rosso di Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino and Brunello di Montalcino Riserva.

Now, let’s talk about the dinner, which took place at the restaurant called Vespa in Westport, Connecticut. Not only Vespa offers delicious Italian and Mediterranean food, but the restaurant boasts a wine list which has a lot of unique and interesting wines – when was the last time you saw Erbaluce from Piedmont, Cinque Terre Bianco from Liguria, Frappato from Sicily or a “wine geek special”, Rosso del Contadina from Frank Cornelissen, Sicilian maestro of natural wines? Owner Bobby Werhane has special affinity for the uncommon wines and not afraid to put them on the wine list, which of course makes Vespa a perfect food and wine destination for any foodie and wine aficionado alike – and Vintage Vespa is the series of the wine dinners which serves as a testament to that.

Podere Brizio Wines Decanter

The wines made it into the decanters at some point

We tasted through 4 different wines from Podere Brizio – 2013 Rosso, and Brunello from 2010, 2007 and 2001 vintages, so in essence, this was a vertical tasting.  There was one small challenge – the wines were not sufficiently decanted prior to the tasting. Brunello typically are big wines, and they need an ample time in the decanter, or they will not show all its beauty – as you will see from my tasting notes below, this is what happened.

Our dinner consisted of 4 courses. We started with Chicken Liver Pate (Red Onion Mostarda, Toasted Brioche) which had great texture and was absolutely delicious. To my surprise, 2013 Podere Brizio Rosso di Montalcino worked very well with the dish, contrasting the sweet nuances with its tart acidity.

Our second course was Ricotta Cavatelli (Braised Pork Shoulder, Tuscan Kale, Golden Raisins, Toasted Pine Nuts) – again, outstanding, touch of heat and great flavor, hearty and heartwarming (sorry, 2010 was too tight for that, so no pairing notes).

Our main course was Prosciutto Wrapped Veal Tenderloin (Pickeld Sautéed Carrots, Almond Purée) – my notes mostly consist of the exclamation points – wow! flavor! presentation!, so yes, the dish was a treat for the eyes and taste buds alike. After decanting, 2007 Brunello was an excellent complement to this dish, and 2001 Brunello worked very well too.

The desert was outstanding – Coffee Crunch Profiteroles (Mascarpone Cream, Cappuccino Gelato) – imagine a marriage of a classic Profiterole with classic Tiramisu – yep, that was good. And no, we didn’t try to pair the dessert with the wine, we just enjoyed it by itself.

Coffee Crunch Profiteroles at Vespa WestportAll in all, this was one delicious dinner we have to thank the Executive Chef David White for.

I did my best taking the tasting notes, juggling both delicious food and conversations with other guests, so for what it worth, my tasting notes are below:

2013 Podere Brizio Rosso di Montalcino (13.5% ABV)
C: Garnet
N: Tobacco, earthy undertones, violet
P: Clean acidity, medium body, tart cherries, blackberries, tobacco
V: 7+

2010 Podere Brizio Brunello di Montalcino (14.5% ABV)
C: Garnet
N: Violet, raspberries, blackberries
P: closed. Hint of tart cherries, but not much else
V: the wine was not decanted initially – and this is way too young, needed lots of time in the decanter. No rating.

2007 Podere Brizio Brunello di Montalcino (14.5% ABV)
C: Dark Garnet
N: Touch of plums, but mostly closed
P: Plums, nice tannins, good acidity.
V: 7+, needs time – should be decanted for at least 2 hours

2001 Podere Brizio Brunello di Montalcino (14% ABV)
C: dark Garnet, not a sign of age
N: Intense crushed berries, tar, leather, blackberries
P: Fresh tannins, great acidity, open, vibrant, great concentration and structure
V: 8/8+, just started to open, will shine in 5-10 years.

There you have it, my friends. Delicious food + Great wines = Vintage Vespa. Make sure to keep an eye on Vespa (probably their Facebook page is the easiest) so you will not miss the next wine dinner. Or better yet – head over to the restaurant and just make your own wine dinner – I’m sure you will not be disappointed. Cheers!

Vespa Westport
2A Post Rd West
Westport, CT 06880
Ph:(203) 557-9057

Vespa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

  1. March 28, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    Looks all amazing! At last the 2001 got to shine somewhat? Can you imagine how that would’ve tasted the next day?

    • March 28, 2016 at 5:00 pm

      At “least”

    • talkavino
      March 28, 2016 at 5:01 pm

      2001 was perfect and yes, it would probably be even better next day. I’m sure that 2007 would too 🙂

  2. March 28, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    Great post! And, what a fantastic dinner!
    My husband and I were just in Tuscany and visited a number of vineyards in the Montalcino and Montepulciano regions. The Brunello wines were wonderful! I plan to write a post on our experience there soon. 🙂

    • talkavino
      March 29, 2016 at 10:54 am

      Thank you Tonya! I saw that you were in Italy – looking forward to your posts!

  3. March 29, 2016 at 2:43 am

    The food looks and sounds great. I’ve had a pairing of terrine of foie gras with a Puisseguin St-Emilion last week, and there it was also red onion that brought it together. Your post makes a clear case for not serving great reds in their youth (which I refer to as “baby murder”), which unfortunately happens a lot at restaurants with Barolo, Brunello, and Médoc.
    PS the rinascimento started in Tuscany around 1350, so the middle ages where long gone in the 1600s

    • talkavino
      March 29, 2016 at 10:57 am

      This is the problem with the “current vintages” for many red wines, for sure the Italian – it is better to consume those at home or call restaurant ahead and ask them to decant one for you – hmmm, would they actually do it for you?

      • March 29, 2016 at 1:06 pm

        Probably only if you are a regular customer (or pay a deposit). And let’s not forget temperature. Recently an otherwise fine restaurant in Key West served red by the glass at room temperature, or about 72 degrees. I don’t have to explain to you I did not enjoy that glass of pinot. They said only bottles were served at the proper temperature. So the next time I asked to chill the red I was going to have a glass of later.

        • talkavino
          March 29, 2016 at 1:18 pm

          Yes, of course, temperature is another culprit in itself.

  4. March 29, 2016 at 9:51 am


    • talkavino
      March 29, 2016 at 10:58 am

      Michelle, this might be the best single word comment I ever had in this blog 🙂 Cheers!

  5. March 30, 2016 at 7:46 am

    Great post, the food is making me hungry, I am always thirsty for a good wine. Unfortunately leaving decanting until too late happens to often, especially at wine dinners for some reason, you would think that the organisers would know better!

    • talkavino
      March 30, 2016 at 9:25 am

      Yes, this was quite surprising to me in a professional-lead wine dinner. Well, the wines still evolved, and 2001 was magnificent.

  6. April 1, 2016 at 7:32 pm

    This looks like such an amazing dinner! Thanks for sharing.

    • talkavino
      April 2, 2016 at 7:34 am

      Wine dinners are the best, aren’t they? Yes, this was very tasty. Thanks for stopping by!

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