When friends from out of town invited a small group of us to dinner recently, as they do almost every fall, it was at the same Manhattan restaurant where we usually convene — an Italian institution known to us for its familiarity, consistency, and quality. The place has a way of bringing us all back to our early days in New York, and we spend a couple of hours savoring the memories, the food, and, of course, the wine.
My friend Mark will always order the wine, and I am happy to cede the responsibility here since he has an impressive knowledge of high-end bottles from Tuscany.
The first wine he chose that evening? A white blend from one of Marchesi Antinori’s estates, the Castello della Sala 2015 “Cervaro della Sala.”
While most of Antinori’s estates are in Tuscany, Castello della Sala is actually in neighboring Umbria. The Cervaro della Sala is a blend of mainly Chardonnay with a small amount of Grechetto, Umbria’s best-known white variety and a key part of Orvieto, its signature wine.
The Cervaro della Sala is striking from the first breath and taste, notable for its bright, fresh fruit, lively acidity, and seamless integration of oak that, together, make it a model of lean elegance. The tastes evoke pear, white peach, and a refreshing layer of lemon and orange. There’s also a subtle yet enticing candied-fruit quality. It’s the kind of wine that will have you anticipating the next sip, and the next.
Had we not moved on to a red wine for our main courses, it would have been a perfect match for my veal piccata, and it will pair well with lots of chicken and fish dishes.
As I said, the oak treatment is restrained. The Chardonnay gets about three months of barrel aging and is then moved into stainless steel tanks where it is blended with the Grechetto. The result is a memorable, $49 wine that will brighten a special feast and make for an impressive holiday gift.