I am fond of a glass of bubbles so I was only too happy to accept an invitation to attend a lunch celebrating Riccadonna sparkling wines that are made in Italy and are bottled in Piedmont, the region of Italy boarding France and Switzerland.
The name Riccadonna comes from an Italian family dating back to the 12th Century. The family started producing wine in 1921 however in 2003 they sold the brand to the Campari Group and today, it is Australia’s most popular imported wine.
The day of the lunch was a beautiful, warm spring day, (actually extremely hot and more like summer), and so when I arrived all hot and bothered and saw waiters holding trays of icy cold sparkling drinks I was overjoyed. The Riccadoona wines are best enjoyed very chilled and so they are perfect when served during the hotter months.
We sat at a very long table that is synonymous with Italian-styled alfresco dining, except we had a roof over our heads. The long trestle table was beautifully set with fresh and colourful Spring flowers. It was a stunning table and I sat there trying to think of a way to smuggle a couple of bunches of flowers home with me.
We started the lunch with fried pizza bread. It was something I’ve never had before and I really liked the crunchy texture of the bread that was lightly sprinkled with sea salt and served with a zucchini relish.
The first sparkling wine we tried was Riccadonna Moscato Rose which has a very pretty and currently very popular, light pink hue. The wine is excellent for a celebration and has very subtle rose notes. I really enjoyed the Rose.
The Rose was paired with grilled tuna loin with sweet and sour eggplant and pomegranate relish. Now I know you’re not supposed to pair wines with matching food colours but I thought the colour of the Rose was a wonderful match with the colour of the tuna.
I had an heirloom tomato salad with sweet and sour eggplant and buffalo mozzarella. This was a fabulous salad and one I’d like to recreate at home.
The next course was baked figs wrapped in pancetta with candied walnuts, fresh pear and gorgonzola. I adore all these flavours and know they work incredibly well together. The salad contained bitter leaves however this was softened with the salty pancetta and the sweetness of the fig.
The dish was served with a glass of brilliantly red, Riccadonna Ruby. It’s a wine made exclusively from dark grapes that’s light, fruity and easy to enjoy.
The main course was lightly smoked Huon Salmon with puree, shaved celery heart and fennel salad. There were a lot of wonderful Spring colours and flavours in this dish with a broad range of green vegetables.
I had grilled mushrooms with puree, shaved celery heart and fennel salad. I’m not sure the mushrooms went terrible well with this dish but putting them aside, the puree and salad of broad beans and other Spring vegetables blended well and were fresh and vibrant.
The wine served with the main course was the Riccadonna Prosecco. This is a very light and refreshing and drinkable sparkling wine that is perfect with light meals. I think it went very well with the primavera styled salad. I can see myself enjoying the Prosecco on a hot summer’s night.
The final course was baked peaches with toasted panettone and lemon mascarpone. Massimo said this is his version of a Christmas dessert. The half-peach was topped with dried fruits and nuts then covered in the panettone and baked, then topped with the lemon cream. I really enjoyed the dessert; instead of the panettone being dry, it had soaked up a lot of juices from the fruits and was soft and intensely flavoured; rich but not overwhelming.
The wine served with the dessert was the Riccadonna Asti Spumante. This is apparently the most popular imported wine in Australia. It’s a very sweet sparkling wine that pairs well with desserts. I do have to say I’m more in the ‘dry wine camp’ but I can see how a sweeter sparkling wine works well with desserts. Martina said this is a wine that’s perfect for adding to simple desserts. For a taste of summer simply pour a little Asti Spumante over a bowl of ripe stone fruits and it will bring the fruit to life.
I very much enjoyed tasting the sparkling wines produced by Riccadonna and having them paired with a beautiful Italian lunch. I think the wines are very festive-looking and as they are lower in alcohol and sparkling and drinkable, they are perfect for our upcoming summer and party season. It’s just as well I have a bottle or two chilling in my fridge.
Riccadonna sparkling wines are available at all good bottle shops and retail for less than $20.00/bottle.