Last night, we were joined by a special guest, Chef Massimo Capra, to chat about Italian wine and food pairings
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Here are the wines we tasted tonight with Chef Massimo Capra:
Gabbiano Chianti Classico 2014
Tuscany D.O.C.G., Italy
Gabbiano Chianti 2015
Tuscany DOCG, Italy
Castello Di Gabbiano Promessa Pinot Grigio 2015
Castello Di Gabbiano Riserva Chianti Classico 2013
Tuscany D.O.C.G, Italy
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Born in Italy, Chef Massimo Capra’s culinary training began in Salsomaggiore, Parma. He then started his culinary journey at the famous Trattoria dall’ Amelia in Mestre near Venice.
He spent several years at Hotel Royal in Courmayeur, Val d’Aosta, Hotel Savoy and Drei Tannen restaurant in San Martino di Castrozza, and under contract with Gallia Hotels in Milan and various resort properties.
Chef Massimo Capra came to Toronto in 1982 and worked at “Archers”, a restaurant owned by a family member. In 1989, he became an acclaimed chef at “Prego della Piazza”, where he remained for nine years.
In 1997, Chef Massimo Capra joined forces with Paolo Paolini, formerly of Splendido Restaurant, to open Mistura Restaurant.
Sopra Upper Lounge, opened in 2006, and is now a favourite venue for a variety of entertainment needs.
In 2010 chef Massimo Capra licenced his name to the famous restaurant “Rainbow Room” in the Crown Plaza Hotel in Niagara Falls. The last few years he became chef brand-owner of Boccone Trattoria Veloce and Boccone Pronto at Pearson airport in Toronto, and Soprafino Restaurant at Hamad International Airport in Doha Qatar.
Chef Massimo Capra is currently operating his next venture in his hometown of Mississauga: Capra’s Kitchen will be a casual Italian eatery with heavy emphasis on Pasta, Pizza and Antipasto. Capra’s Kitchen opened in the summer of 2016.
Author of “One Pot Italian” and “Three Chefs: The Kitchen Men” which in 2011 received the gold award from Canadian Culinary Book Award. Chef Capra is the food editor for “Canadian Home Trends” magazine.
Chef Massimo Capra is no stranger to television being the host of his own show, Gourmet Escapes, and is a regular guest expert on the long running City TV Cityline; chef host on the hit series Restaurant Makeover on the Food Network; and now Massimo is a judge on the hit show Chopped Canada.
Editor’s Note: Several of our writers attended events hosted by Gabbiano Wines and Chef Massimo Capra recently. We’ve curated their reports together here for your enjoyment!
By Melissa Pulvermacher
Most of us hospitality folk recognize celebrity chef Massimo Capra’s name, whether it is from his cook book, his many TV appearances or from one of his three restaurants, Rainbow Room, Boccone or Soprafino.
Chef Massimo is back at it with a brand new location in Mississauga, Ontario, named after the celebrity himself, Capra’s Kitchen. Partnering with Castello di Gabbiano wines from Tuscany, Capra hosted his grand opening party to showcase his new location to his friends, family and loyal fans.
A party celebrating Capra’s classic Italian cuisine pairs best with a quality Chianti Classico.
Castello di Gabbiano is a Tuscan winery rooted in the tradition of grape-growing and winemaking.
Gabbiano’s winemaking can be traced back more than 3000 years. Gabbiano grows primarily Sangiovese, but also, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Colorino.
Present at the launch party was Gabbiano’s winemaker Federico Cerelli. Federico became head winemaker for Gabbiano in 2011. Federico is a Tuscan native entirely dedicated to the soil, grapes and potential of the Chianti Classico region.
Federico gleams with pride as he speaks about the Gabbiano vineyards, and especially the Chianti Classic wines made there. he is a graduate of Università degli Studi di Firenze having studied Enology and Viticulture.
Federico views his position as Gabbiano’s winemaker as a real opportunity to showcase wines from the best vineyards, while experimenting with new styles and techniques to allow the wines to continually adapt whilst maintaining quality.
Federico describes the native grape varietal, Sangiovese, as rustic in terms of tannin, adaptable, bright and expressive. He also points out that the style of Chianti Classico is continually changing as these “rustic tannins” were once extracted intensely for heavy food pairings, but with food preferences changing, the wines must also adapt to maintain those perfect pairings.
The market now seeks clean and fresh foods and Federico believes Gabbiano has adapted their Chianti Classico to reflect these preferences. He describes the new style as traditional, but much more “elegant” and fresh.
This elegance is achieved in the winery with a very gentle extraction of skin tannins resulting in less body. Wild yeasts from the very old cellar are used for fermentation and have been used exclusively since 2012.
Gabbiano also works very gently with wood. Federico mentions that the winery used to work with a lot of new, American oak, extracting more tannins, but this new generation style now calls for less new oak, French oak maturation and use of bigger casks resulting in less tannin extraction maintaining the desired delicacy.
What is the difference between these wines besides their price-points?
Chianti is simply a red wine from the Chianti district in Tuscany, Italy, while Chianti Classico is a designated area within the Chianti district. This designated area has specific requirements for the Sangiovese grapes and the winemaking. The wines must be a minimum of 80% Sangiovese and aged for 10+ months.
Chianti Classico Riserva guarantees the same Classico designation, but specifically assures that the wine will have been aged in oak for a minimum of 2 years and an extra 3 months in bottle contributing to the body, drinkability and quality of the wine.
Gabbiano’s Gran Selezione Bellezza Chianti Classico is 100% Sangiovese and all grapes are sourced from the best block in their vineyards. This block is at the highest point (350 mtres above sea level) and is known for maintaining acidity and vibrancy in the grapes. While all of the Chianti’s delivered, this was the one that stole the show for me.
Fresh black plum, bright red cherry and sweet florals dominate the nose while the palate remains firm, fresh and elegant. The finish showcases the bright fruit, but with an added complexity of black pepper spice, forest floor and violet flowers. The wine is clean and vibrant.
More than 50% of the Castello di Gabbiano vineyards are allocated to their top, premium wines.
Gabbiano is very well received in our Ontario market and has been for the last 10 years. Federico insists that Canadians understand and respect quality Chianti, pointing out that Riserva sells better here than it does in the US market, where they’ve been present for 40+ years.
While there are several Chianti wines available here in Ontario, Federico truly believes that Gabbiano continues to succeed because of their consistency and commitment to quality year after year.
Lift your glass of Chianti Classico and cheers Chef Massimo Capra on his new venture!
Educated through the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), Melissa Pulvermacher is an Educator, Wine Writer and Personal Sommelier for her business, Pulvino Wine.
Melissa also works with a local wine agency as Operations and Logistics Manager and teaches WSET courses at The University of Guelph.
Inspired by the complex world of food and wine, Melissa considers herself forever in pursuit of something new to learn and experience.
By Alex & Priya, A Vine Romance
We’re used to seeing celebrity chef, Massimo Capra on Food Network shows like Chopped Canada and Top Chef Canada, but on this night we got to see the king of Italian cuisine in person at the launch of his new restaurant, Capra’s Kitchen in Mississauga.
Click on the arrow above to watch Alex’s interview with Gabbiano Winemaker Federico Cerelli, whose wines were featured at the event.
Massimo is quite the character, with his trademark moustache a very prominent symbol throughout the restaurant and on display in the food as well–most beautifully on the celebration cake that was made for the opening.
In fact, Priya was tempted to try on a ‘stache’ before eating the delicious chocolate shortbread it was made of! What do you think?
As you’ll see she also has a glass of red wine in her hand, wine by Castello de Gabbiano, the official wine at the launch party.
This producer makes excellent Chianti Classico of which two were being poured, along with a lovely white.
Gabbiano’s entry-level 2014 Chianti Classico is an incredible wine in the under $20 price bracket and well-paired with the rustic Italian cuisine served at Capra’s.
The 2012 Bellezza Chianti Classico is a wine you buy for a special dinner, it’s so smooth and rich and full-bodied.
The white wine was the 2012 Promessa Pinot Grigio, crisp and dry, lovely with the house hummus with smoked paprika, crispy garlic and chickpeas but also would be equally enjoyable on a sunny afternoon all by itself.
Along with the fantastic spread of Italian antipasto including the marinated olives with lemon and pepperoncino, sweets and pasta, the evening was made festive with a live blues band.
Alex enjoyed a great chat with Federico Cerelli about his winemaking approach (“less power, more elegance”), the affects of global warming (they are building an artificial lake as irrigation is prohibited) and the oldest wine in the Gabbiano cellar (a vintage 1980!).
You can visit Gabbiano and better yet–stay in their castle pictured below. Sounds like a dream vacation to us!
Having the winemaker present from Gabbiano, along with Capra himself truly made it a memorable evening.
The wines accentuated the fabulous cuisine and it’s a pairing you absolutely must try for yourself. Capra’s Kitchen is located at 1834 Lakeshore Road in Mississauga.
Alex and Priya are not only wine lovers, but lovers in real life. No wine snobbery here — they’re all about bringing wine everyday wine drinkers.
Together, they are the hosts of the television series, “The Drink” on Bellmedia.
Alex is a Certified Sommelier who lives, breathes, and of course, drinks wine. He is very passionate about wine and is the head sommelier for celebrity chef Susur Lee, as well as hip-hop star, Drake’s Frings Restaurant.
Alex was the only person in a class of over 200 students to earn a perfect score on his Wine Specialist Exam in Napa, California.
Priya, an actor and on-camera host with top Canadian film talent, is a casual drinker and an entertaining hostess.
With her background as a comic performer and producer, Priya has also produced and hosted events for groups of 100 to more than 2,000 guests.
Visit www.avineromance.com for more info.
By Mymi Myriam
This week, I met Castello di Gabbiano’s Federico Cerelli at a tasting event in Toronto. I was part of a very small group who had the opportunity to have lunch with the brilliant winemaker and I enjoyed every moment!
Federico studied Enology and Viticulture at the Universita degli Studi di Frienze and graduated in 2000 with a perfect score of 110/110 and also studied at the Facultée d’oenologie at the world renowned Université Victor Segalen in Bordeaux.
A Tuscany native, his understanding of the Chianti culture goes deeper than its soil. With an innate wisdom about the local food and the history of the region, Federico understood very early on how people’s changing food habits affected how they viewed wine as well.
As soon as the big jammy reds made an appearance on the worldwide market, the notoriously acidic and thin Chianti historically packaged in Fiasco (straw bottles) became a long lost memory to most red wine drinkers.
For Federico, this was an opportunity to transform and catapult Chianti into a new century.
After working in many prestigious Italian wineries for over ten years, he brought his intense knowledge and passion to Castello di Gabbiano and produced his first vintage in 2011.
With constant innovation, research and dedication, Federico is transforming the old-fashioned rustic Sangiovese grapes into a hip wine that is pleasing to a more and more diverse crowd.
In fact, their wines has something for everyone. The addition of Merlot and the use of a screwcap for their entry-level basic Chianti creates a very friendly and easy drinking wine.
A more gentle extraction of tannins during the fermentation process delivers delicious wines that can be enjoyed with or without food and yet, as with their Chianti Classico also shows great ageing potential.
Speaking of food, Federico believes that when it comes to Chianti, it should not be about the power of the wine but rather how adaptable it is to food and after sampling their Promessa Pinot Grigio with an aragula and Parmigiano salad with lemony dressing, wild mushroom risotto with their 2014 Chianti Classico and the veal striploin with their 2013 Chianti Classico Riserva, I was convinced!
Chianti might be going through a revolution. It was long considered to be a rustic peasant beverage to be quaffed with everyday food, but thanks to Federico’s vision, I am discovering (and loving) a whole new side to this Sangiovese based wine. And like he says, all it takes is a little re-education for the whole world to re-discover Chianti!
Sommelier & Musician
Mymi is a sommelier, singer-songwriter, musician and voice-over artist with a serious and contagious passion for wine, food and music.
When asked why she is so enthusiastic about wine, she replies, “Wine connects so many elements of life that I absolutely love. From growing herbs and vegetables to cooking, eating, travelling, entertaining, studying. There is always something new to learn in the world of wine. Sharing my knowledge with people, no matter their level of expertise, is something I sincerely enjoy.”
Her qualifications include certifications from The Court of Master Sommeliers, The International Sommelier Guild, The Society of Wine Educators, The Ontario Wine Council and most recently, The French Wine Society. As a professional musician, she shares her knowledge of wine in an entertaining, down-to-earth, and unpretentious way.
She is completing the French Wine Society’s Master Level program, is in the early stages of creating a food/wine/music show is currently recording her first all-French album. Mymi is a regular contributor to NatalieMacLean.com.