The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2015

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22  /  the tasting panel  /  march 2015 SAN FRAN INSIDER W hen applied to wine grapes and to beef, the artisanal process of drying to concentrate and increase the complexity of flavors produces a savory, umami-driven experience. While there's no mystery behind the affinity between red wine and beef, Amarone producer Masi teamed up with local purveyor Flannery Beef for a tasting that elevated this classic to new heights. Staged at San Francisco restaurant Perbacco, Umberto Gibin's long-running destination that serves as a home away from home for visiting Italian wine producers, Masi's Rafaelle Boscaini and Bryan Flannery shared a few insights about their respective methods of air-curing and then let their extraordinary products do the talking. Boscaini poured a bold Masianco 2013 Pinot Grigio to accompany a seasonal composed salad and followed with two Amarone—a 2008 Riserva di Costasera and 2007 Moncenisio, a Molinara-dominant wine that ages in cherry—served with Flannery's unique cuts of 20-day and 40-day dry-aged beef. The pairings were masterful in that they were utterly complete; the 2007 was better suited to the longer-aged rib cap, a cut formed from the outer part of the prime rib, and the 2008 struck just the right balance with the concentrated, mineral flavors of Flannery's "Saratoga" center rib cut. Flannery works with sub-primal cuts of Holstein, which is less common than Hereford or Angus beef, and typically ages beef destined for Bay Area restaurants about two weeks, although longer-aged cuts are popular as specials and with his private clients. While dry-aging, beef loses 90 percent of its moisture within two weeks as it develops a firm crust and nutty flavor. Flannery gauges the airflow and humidity of his cold storage in the same manner that Boscaini's winemaking team at Masi looks after the fruttai, the building devoted solely to the drying of Corvina, Ronidella, Molinara and other varieties used for Amarone. "Costasera literally means evening slopes," said seventh- generation vintner Boscaini. "The vineyards face Lake Garda where they benefit from the lake effect and from long hours of evening light." Masi includes a fourth variety, Oseleta, in the blend and gives the wine an additional year of aging prior to release. The Boscaini family has managed the Vaio Armaron vineyard—source for Moncenisio—since the 1970s. Owned by the Serego Alighieri family, descendants of the poet Dante, it's widely believed that the term Amarone comes from this site. "Amarone is a gentle giant," said Boscaini. "And the process by which we produce it reveals the very soul of the wine." By year's end, Gibin and Perbacco and Barbacco chef-owner Staffan Terje will debut their third restaurant—a modern French brasserie with a Swedish twist—in Tom Colicchio's former 'wichcraft space at Fifth and Mission Streets. The wine list will look to France and California for inspiration. The drying of grapes (appassimento) for Amarone at Masi in Italy's Veneto region. Masi's Rafaelle Boscaini (left), Deborah Parker Wong and Flannery Beef's Bryan Flannery discover a new classic: Amarone paired with dry-aged beef at Perbacco. Taking the Cure AN AGE-OLD PRACTICE SERVES UP A NEW CLASSIC by Deborah Parker Wong PHOTO COUTRSY OF MASI AGRICOLA PHOTO: REY DEL FIERRO

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