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One night only: Argiano, Casale del Giglio perfectly paired

May 24, 2024

There’s simply no substitute for great food and wine – especially when paired with such an astute attention to detail. So, what do you get when you combine a Michelin starred chef, five sumptuous plates, and arguably some of Italy’s most prized wines – served and enjoyed within the extraordinary and luxurious fine dining setting at downtown Toronto’s DaNico? A can’t miss experience, of course!

VineRoutes editor Carmelo Giardina and contributing editor Tod Stewart each attended special one-night only, sommelier-led wine pairing dinners that featured the famed house of Argiano from Tuscany, and Casale del Giglio from Lazio (located just outside of Rome).

A night with Argiano

With a history of winemaking dating back 400 years, the house of Argiano has enjoyed notoriety for its wines produced in the famous Montalcino region in Tuscany. This was an opportunity to not only taste the highly sought after Brunello di Montalcino, but also its sibling wines (the Non Confunditur IGT and Solengo IGT) – two super Tuscans more than worthy of the term.

Following a Champagne and aperitivo welcome reception, guests were served an exquisite multi-course dinner – curated specially for the evening by DaNico’s Michelin-starred executive chef, Daniele Corona (former exec chef at Don Alfonso 1890 Toronto). Special guest, sommelier Margherita Mascagni was in town to introduce and speak about the wines.

Chef Daniele Corona

Chef Daniele Corona applies finishing touches to plates at DaNico.

The dinner was exactly what one would expect. Classy, delicious, precise.

A plate featuring Ontario mallard duck breast with an organic fennel puree paired lovely with the 2022 Non Confunditur IGT. The cab sauv, merlot, sangiovese blend added freshness and versatility to the generously flavoured dish. Likewise, the dish added structure to the wine.

Spaghettoni boiled in an extraction of organic mushrooms, served with Parmigiano Reggiano and fresh Italian black truffle was a match made in heaven for both the 2012 and 2019 Argiano Brunello di Montalcino. Both wines delivered broad and complex flavours, with the ’19 tasting more robust, and the ’12 more savoury, with silky, rich tannins.

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The penultimate course won the night however, featuring gently charcoal grilled and 12 hour marinated wagyu tenderloin paired alongside the 2021 Solengo IGT. This mighty Tuscan, featuring a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petit verdot and sangiovese was indeed powerful on its own, but was tamed by the wagyu, each complementing the other beautifully, creating rich, lasting flavours with each bite and sip. A stellar pairing.

Closing the evening was the winery’s exclusive Grappa di Brunello di Montalcino, with dessert and coffee service. Bravo. – Carmelo Giardina

A Lazio lunch

Wine and food pairings can be hit or miss… or neither. More often than not, the food and the wine get along amicably. There are occasional flops and occasional fireworks. Lunch at DaNico – with wines from Lazio’s Casale del Giglio – provided a rare gastronomic fireworks display (thanks no doubt at least in part – if not in whole – to the matching talents of Head Sommelier Ashleigh Forster).

While the 2022 Anthium Bellone Lazio Blanco IGT (an indigenous white grape variety) paired admirably with the (very creative – and delicious) canapés and North Pacific wild crab served on Mediterranean salad with golden trout roe and green olive coulis, it was with the first red wine where things really got interesting.

DaNico Restaurant

When food pairs perfectly with wine (and vice-versa), it becomes an unforgettable sensory experience.

The 2021 Matilda Cesanese Lazio Rosso IGT (another indigenous variety) was initially quite pleasant, with dark plum, mineral, and smoked meat aromas and similar flavours, wrapped into a mid-weight package. But when paired with the spaghettoni (described above) a whole new level of savoury complexity came to the fore. The smokiness was enhanced; a unique herbal note was introduced, and wine and the dish practically waltzed into the sunset (or at least into the next course).

The 2021 Shiraz Lazio Rosso IGT (more in the mould of a French syrah than a New World shiraz) and the 2018 Mater Matuta Lazio Rosso IGT (a blend of syrah and petit verdot) worked nicely with the (again above-mentioned) wagyu tenderloin main course. But it was the pairing of a dessert wine – the 2021 Aphrodisium – with a strawberry panna cotta that really left you a bit short of breath.

The wine’s unctuous texture and ripe apricot, honeysuckle, and allspice flavours wrapped themselves around the creamy panna cotta like a decadent blanket, tempering the sweetness, enhancing the acidity, and creating that gastronomic gestalt where the whole becomes infinitely greater than the sum of the components. – Tod Stewart


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