Luxury Maculan Wine Dinner at The Bath Priory: Food & Wine Matching Connoisseurs
Last week on 24 September I was invited to meet Angela Maculan at the Bath Priory’s exclusive four course dinner.
Angela is an inspired speaker, whose enthusiasm for her family’s wines made the evening a passion for wine, food and knowledge. She tours the world representing her family’s estate, headed up by her father and head winemaker Fausto Maculan.
Their estates are based in the DOC region of Breganze, Veneto, about an hour’s drive north-west of Venice. The Maculans call this region a merge of ‘ancient traditions and state-of-the-art technology’, vital in their production of beautiful wines.
At the Bath Priory dinner, Angela presented four of her family estate’s wines alongside a menu created especially for the evening by Michelin-starred chef Sam Moody and head sommelier Francesca Martusciello.
The twelve guests arrived at 7pm and were greeted with a glass of Maculan’s Vespaiolo and some canapés, including my favourite mushroom risotto balls with truffle mayonnaise – a refined take on the classic arancini.
The native Vespaiolo grape, to which the Maculan estate has one of the greatest claims to pioneering, makes up 100% of their varietal wine. The result is a water-white wine with lemon, orange blossom and intense stone fruit on the nose, including a light nutty-like character.
On the palette the wine is a bone-dry white with strong acidity and a long, lingering finish. An excellent choice as an aperitif or alongside canapés. A young wine, albeit still complex on the nose and fulfilling in the mouthfeel.
Following our introductions we moved into the Bath Priory’s beautifully set-up dining room, as guests shared their experiences of wine travel all over the world. With news of the upcoming starter, Angela seamlessly took control and explained the second wine – Bidibi 2014, a name which stems from the term Bianco di Briganze.
This wine was a blend of 60% Tai and 40% Sauvignon. Its body and character was like a crossover between the green apple skins tartness of a Petit Chablis and a young, fruit-forward New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. More rounded than the first wine and easier on the acidity, with plenty of alcohol in the glass to make enough legs to please the meanest of wine critics. Light grassy notes pull together with plenty of ripe tropical fruit and citrus glee. A remarkable wine considering its youth.
Alongside this blend we first had ‘Home cured bresaola’ with piccalilli and caper berries. This air-dried salted beef Italian cuisine was changed a little by the kitchen to give it a little more moistness, ensuring the salt didn’t fight too much with the wine. Likewise the roundedness of the Bidibi was an ideal tone-down for the saltiness of the dish. Both wine and dish were aromatic.
We were off! Glorious food, stunning wines: this was the Bath Priory Hotel alright.
The Bidibi kept pouring into the second course, where it was matched with the other side of the spectrum: ‘Seared Cornish mackerel’ with chilli and coriander. While many guests seemed like they preferred the bresaola dish with the wine, the mackerel dish won me over tenfold.
Appealing to my more British cuisine the strong flavours of the fish dish were crying out for the tropical and citrus fruits in the Bidibi wine. All of it worked: from the use of leek instead of onion to moderate the strength of the dish through to that classic mouth-watering mackerel texture. I wanted more from the chilli but I think with the wine, this dish was perfect.
More conversation flew about wine-making and holidays as we awaited our third course, the main, and Angela introduced us to the Fratta 2011 red wine. This Cabernet-Merlot, doubtlessly Tuscan-inspired, red wine was just as a full bodied red should be: brilliant alcohol legs on the glass, deep ruby colour slowly moving to a browner hue and aromas of those classic red berries, plum and spicy cocoa. The wine was, however, still a little too young on the nose.
Made from grapes from two separate vineyards 2km apart, Fratta is cared for from start to finish, with the timely “punch down” method used rather than pumping over to preserve aromas, skins and all the nutrients as much as possible. After fermentation, Fratta is then aged in French oak barriques.
The result on the palette is a wine that shows its youth; while the gorgeous fruit is certainly there somewhere, a few notes of bitter tannin and a touch of liquorice linger before the full fruit – cherries, blackberries, raspberries – comes through and you enjoy the substantial length of this wine’s finish.
The Fratta 2011 was paired with our main, ‘Roast loin of venison’, consisting of a venison beignet, kale, smoked bacon, fig jam and venison jus. This was ideal for the wine: a meat of medium richness but full of intense flavours to meet those gorgeous fruits in the wine and simultaneously stand up to the tannins. The smoked bacon element of the dish against the barrique influence on the wine was again an inspired choice, while the sweetness of the jam and jus brought those fruits right out in the finish. Very pleasurable food and wine experience.
To round it all off we tried a simply sublime wine. Maculan’s Acininobili dessert wine from 2004. While certainly premium in price (around £35 here in the UK for 37.5cl bottles), it’s a beautiful wine to get to try. Made from botrytised (noble rot) Vespaiola grapes it’s a wine with deep gold colours and a bouquet of honey, dried fruit, mint and lusciousness on the nose. It’s not sickly sweet on the palette but both intense and delicate with a huge long finish. Gratifying at every level when served at the right temperature. You could enjoy happily on its own.
But we had a fourth course to go with: a prune and Armagnac soufflé. I’m no soufflé fan – for me it’s just too rich and cake-frothy to enjoy in any portion larger than bitesize. However the Armagnac made this soufflé just what the doctor ordered: sweet nuttiness and caramel, and so delicate and light. Alongside the wine it worked very well.
All in all Angela Maculan proved to everyone that they had to try her family’s wines, and the Bath Priory Hotel once again cemented itself as connoisseurs of food and wine matching. Of course another shout out must go to the professional service throughout the evening, who were commendable. A great evening enjoyed by all!
To keep updated on the latest wine dinners and other events taking place at The Bath Priory, visit www.thebathpriory.co.uk or call the events team there on 01225 331922.