Sunday, August 18, 2019

Lugana wines delight at Cantonese Happiness Dinner

A birthday was at hand, and a feast was in order. That was the setup for a recent wine media event at Jing Fong in New York's Chinatown, where Lugana wines and a stunning array of Cantonese dishes delivered on the promise of the name "Happiness Dinner."  Pinny Tam, publisher of the blog Chinese Food and Wine Pairing and collaborator in the special menu, explained that the traditional happiness dinner is an elaborate celebration meal.

The parade of dishes wowed us, with beautiful and sometimes surprising presentations.  The flavors were enticing but not overwhelming, with mild sauces seasoned with garlic, ginger, scallion and rice wine among other flavors.  Our extensive menu for the night included: baked scallops with seafood rolls, sauteed cuttlefish, sauteed shrimp and chicken, seafood in a basket, steak filet, crispy chicken, fried fish with garlic, steamed lobster with garlic, and fried rice.  

A dinner of this magnitude needs special wine to carry you from one delicacy to the next, and at this event we learned that the white wines from northern Italy's Lugana region fit the bill very well. With medium to medium high acidity, depth of flavors ranging from stone fruit to bitter almond, and medium weight, they can stand up to and enhance - but not overwhelm - a wide variety of foods. 

Our dinner wines were: 

Cantina Bulgarini Lugana DOC 2017 - A crisp white with refreshing acidity and good length. Aromas of white peach with ripe yellow apple on the palate.  

Le Morette Lugana DOC Mandolara 2017 -  This rendition of Lugana wine had a kiss of sweetness along with flavors of fresh plums and apricot, with a finish of bitter almonds.  

Ca Maiol Lugana DOC Molin 2017 - This wine was produced with techniques to obtain greater depth of flavor by fermenting at low temperature and allowing skin contact.  This wine had more structure, with flavors of ripe bosc pear and a crisp minerality.  

Cesari Cento Filari Lugana DOC 2016 - This wine adds a touch (5%) of Chardonnay to the traditional Turbiana grape of Lugana.  I found this wine to be far richer than the first ones, with butter aroma and flavor as well as clementine and peach on the palate. It had a long finish and was a white wine of character. 

Ca Dei Frati Brolettino Lugano DOC 2016 - This wine offered a fuller-bodied rendition of a 100 % Turbiana wine.  The winemaking process includes fermentation in steel tanks and 10 month aging in barriques.  I found richer fruit flavors such as dried apricot and even a hint of candied pineapple in the wine.  While it offered plush fruit flavors, it also had refreshing acidity that made it a wonderful pairing for fried fish. 

Tenuta Roveglia Lugana DOC Vendage Tardive Filo di Arianna 2014 - Grapes were picked at the end of October to the beginning of November for this late harvest wine that had slight sweetness.  With fermentation and aging in barriques, this wine has lots of structure, stone fruit flavors of apricot, peach, and plum, and a long finish. 

To end such a feast is sweet sorrow indeed, but the cheerful part is that it gives us a reason to gather with good friends and pour delicious wines like this array of delights from Lugana at a future celebration.