Recently I visited La Cappuccina Winery in Soave in the Veneto, which happened to coincide with their 30th anniversary since going organic. This doesn’t seem like such a big deal these days with so many wineries going organic, biodynamic or sustainable, but thirty years ago this was an anomaly and they were harbingers of a major change in grape-growing and wine production. Built on the site of a Capuchin Monastery with a perfectly restored chapel to St. John the Baptist, La Cappuccina honors the past while forging ahead in a very modern way. I spent the day with Elena Tesseri, shared some stories, some amazing food and some fantastic organic wines, that also happen to be vegan as well.
Our tour began at the tasting room, connected to the chapel of St. John the Baptist, but continued into their historical homestead, with beautiful frescoes and motifs that make it to their wine labels, and a wine cellar with one wall hewn from the columnar basalt rock. Elena’s grandfather, Leonardo Tessari, founded the winery and vineyard, where we saw more of their volcanic basaltic rock soil, which brings great minerality to their wines. Lastly we wandered through their very modern winemaking facility, built in 2004, even visiting their fruittaio where a curtain of Garganega grapes shrivel up in a cooling breeze to make their incredible dessert wines. Elena wanted us to see all of the three “G”s of La Cappuccina: grapes, ground and guys (and gals). All three are key to the success of La Cappuccina though history is always important and found around every corner.
For lunch we were treated to a multi-course meal perfectly paired to each of their stunning wines. We began with an array of local appetizers, small bites beautifully arranged on a plate: Caprese in a glass; Proscuitto wrapped fresh fig; polenta with chevre and La Cappuccina peppers; La Zucca (pumpkin with cinnamon); and Monte Veroneza cheese with Cortona Quince. These were paired with the La Cappuccina Pinot Grigio and their classic Soave, made from 100% Garganega. These light and crisp wines, full of bright fruit and mineral zip were the perfect beginning to our meal. The Soave is a little fatter on the palate but both had incredible aromatics.
Our next course featured fresh tortellini with Grana Padana cheese paired with their Basaltik Sauvignon Blanc. Clean and brisk, showing the basalt volcanic soil, this Sauvignon Blanc is classically European with plenty of gooseberry and lemongrass and just a hint of citrus pith but not that omnipresent grapefruit we get in New Zealand. The third course was Faroe, Pesto and Peas paired with their Madégo red blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc and 15% Merlot. This Bordeaux-style wine has a perfect softness on the palate with elegant tannins and just enough acidity to make it food friendly. Light enough to go with vegetarian dishes, this blend can also hold up to steaks and pork tenderloin, so it is a very versatile wine.
The fourth course was roast beef with a potato purée paired topped with fresh pomegranate seeds served with their reserve Campo Buri, a blend of 90% Cabernet Franc (called Carmènere in Soave) and 10% Oseleta. With berry fruits and herbaceous notes up front, the wine opens to spicy hints of pepper, vanilla and clove, though it develops even greater complexity with age. This is a red to pair with beef or other grilled meats, and even game, though the addition of pomegranate harmonized with the red fruit flavors found in this wine. The label is an homage to the painted frescoes found in the villa, again merging history and modern craft.
Dessert was their take on tiramisu served with a panettone and paired with their superb dessert wines the Arzimo, a Recioto de Soave of Garganega grapes, and the Carmenos, a Passito Veneto of Carmènere and Oseleta. Like two versions of ambrosia, these dessert wines show incredible complexity and subtlety though rich and sweet. Again it’s the minerality that distinguishes these wines and truly represents their special locale. These are some of the best organic wines I’ve tasted and they do a full range of flavors to explore. Recreate this meal with some of their wines and you’ll feel like you’re visiting Italy!
Dan Eddy, Wine & Spirits Sales Manager
Follow me on Twitter @abcwineDanE