On Saturday, for the first time in seven years, I left my Moleskine at home. Not only that, I also made an effort not to take notes. It sounds like a trivial beginning, but the reality is. to savour an Experience you just have to live it. For the same reason I chose not even to leaf through the brochure and rely on what little - very little in fact - I knew about this estate. I had not left my home since 20 December and found myself savouring every moment I had taken for granted for 33 years. I learnt not to take anything for granted when my beloved dad passed away just a couple of years ago. I learnt to contemplate nature. I learnt to taste food and wine differently. I learnt not to procrastinate. I have always been hungry in life: contentment is a word that has never been in my vocabulary. I believe that I and Giuseppe Prestiathe owner, we have the same hunger and I realised this when called Venturini Baldini a château emiliano. The gem for me, however, remains theacetaia of Canossaa small temple of pleasure that is absolutely worth the trip to Food Valley.

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Venturini Baldini: a future Chateau in the Food Valley

No one in Italy has ever tried to call themselves a Chateau, or at least I have never heard this definition. And of spectacular wine cellars that to call them chateaux is reductive, especially in Piedmont, I have visited many. Similarly, in Bordeaux, I have been disappointed many times by structures that were only as regal as their names. To think that someone could call Chateau an Emilian winery? You either have to be crazy or visionary, and if I understood the character I'm inclined to lean towards the latter.

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I was born in Romagna. In me beats an Emilia-Romagna heart of which I am extremely proud. I admit, I only live in Lombardy because there are no lakes in Emilia-Romagna and I couldn't live anywhere that isn't lakefront. The lake gives me a sense of tranquillity that I cannot give up. Yet when I go to Emilia-Romagna, I am unable to feel at home any more than anywhere else. The truth is that I only feel at home where there is a good glass of wine, a bathtub and a means to write. Here, at Venturini Baldini, even if only for a day, I felt at home. Joseph managed to create a château in Emilia? This is a land that has never really focused on wine because it already had too many things to focus on. However, its ability to make an audience feel at home luxurious of an international nature I believe can really make a difference.

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Giuseppe, Julia - his beautiful and brilliant wife - and their 4 children (who are so angelic that they seem to have suddenly come to life from a Vasari painting) greet you with discreet and familiar hospitalityemblem of a contemporary luxury tired of the formalities of traditional 5-star hotels.

And since Giuseppe drew this parallel with the French châteaus that I know very well having visited over a hundred of them in Champagne, Bordeaux, Châteauneuf-du-pape, Languedoc to Provence, I dare say it has all the credentials to make it. People of a certain level who do not travel for business prefer a secluded - but affordable - family luxury over the 5-star on the main square. And I learnt this in Bordeaux, when during one of my stays at the InterContinental Le Grand Hotel right across the street from the Opera, I met certain characters on a business trip. Don't get me wrong: my suite was incredible and discovering that that serial screamer Gordon Ramsay has more orchids in his restaurant than I have at home made me see it in a whole new light - lobsters crammed into a micro aquarium on the side...- but there was a lack of family warmth and the luxury was a formal faffiness that was perfect especially for a business context. Similarly, when I was a guest at château Pichon Baron I also saw the same type of people orbiting around, but more relaxed, where hands slipped from a hug to a computer and lips from an argument to a kiss.

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So Giuseppe is not crazy, rather a visionary entrepreneur: Venturini Baldini's type of hospitality is exactly what his target customers like. If he knows how to create a homely luxury even in the suites of the villa currently being renovated, which will be equipped with a butler - a figure I love - he will absolutely have created his own Emilian château. He and Julia are certainly not lacking in stamina and talent.! They are 32 hectares of organically managed vineyards who have been able to embody the Emilian tradition while also winking a little cheekily at the world. They are landscapes that seem stolen from the Col d'Orciawith these cypress trees chasing each other, breaking up the yellow of the sunny meadows. So close to the city of Reggio Emiliaand yet so far away.

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After a tour of the vineyards with Giuseppe, we visited the acetaia di Canossa with Julia. What a little gem of a taste! Today I was studying food and wine law and in one lesson they were talking about balsamic vinegar. In fact, I will soon dedicate an article to this very subject because it is an Italian gastronomic jewel that in my opinion has not been sufficiently exploited. Probably because it is not yet the subject of a sustainable culture suitable for both the professional and the neophyte.

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The vinegar cellar is really beautiful, neat and clean. There is an enveloping scent of must that steals your heart. And when you walk down the stairs and are greeted by a "Julia"-style hall - country chic with a Nordic touch - you are really happy.

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We tasted a lot of vinegar products, all designed for a public that seeks not only quality, but also presentation. I loved this balsamic with truffle because it is really well balanced: you can really taste both the balsamic vinegar and the truffle, and above all, the truffle tastes like truffle and not chemical as is often the case. Dense and delicious, I find it perfect to enhance a classic risotto, perhaps whipped with Venturini Baldini rosé sparkling wine, a good butter and Parmigiano Reggiano. Just put a few drops or a spiral spin on it and you get a 'starred' dish with very little effort, other than that of making a good risotto all'onda.

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Wasabi pearls are one of the most interesting products I have tastedIt is not easy to balance something as strong and spicy as this Japanese root so well. What's more, it has a fabulous ability to cleanse the mouth, just like the vinegar in this precious spherical recipe. A must for making a good impression while adding flavour and decorating the dish. Goes well with ventresca tuna, salmon and sea bass in carpaccio. 

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After visiting the vinegar cellar, we strolled up to the splendid panoramic terrace and admired some of the villa's corners in preview as the pretty and cosy gymnasium. I loved the icebox and Giuseppe told us in advance that it will host something with an art theme... I can't wait to see it. There is also a scenic outdoor corner where you can relax after your exertion and drink a refreshing bubbly... oops I meant diet herbal tea.

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Our tour continued in the wine cellar, which is small and very tidy. I found it more representational than truly 'operational', but I think this is mainly due to the recent implantation of Giuseppe's management, who only took over Venturini Baldini in 2015, and we know well that in the world of wine, times are a bit slow.

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This setting for a dinner or a good aperitif from Emilia with lambrusco, parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar is absolutely perfect. No, I mean, can you imagine this setting decorated just right for an event? What a wonderful atmosphere!

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I collect orchids and have a beautiful emerald green thumb inherited from my mother. So I won't hide from you that my favourite place is the lemon house, an environment that has INCREDIBLE potential. We saw it still a bit bare and in the process of being completed. As I suggested to Julia, I hope to 'warm it up' with bamboo objects and some nice paintings by Tamara de Lempicka and/or Mucha.

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Tamara de Lempicka Venturini Baldini

There are still a lot of plants missing: I would fill it with Vanda orchids that love lots of light and with their aerial roots and flowers are very scenic. And monanstera? Man, they would fit in beautifully... Anyway, I've already thought about this lemon house and can't wait to share it with Giuseppe.

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If I'm not in the kitchen spying and busting my balls while they work, I'm not happy... so here I am with a preview menu. A 'smart' menu, made with preparations that are easy to handle outside your own kitchen and certainly conveniently prepared beforehand. It takes intelligence to make certain choices, so good for that already.

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Note of praise for the bread: in the first basket they brought me was a delicious warm brioche bread that I scarfed down in no time. I really appreciated it: I hate it when they bring me sad baskets with dingy or worse, old bread! And it happens to me all too often unfortunately, even in restaurants where the food is really good.

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The balsamic vinegar 'caviar' looks really good and is a smart purchase for any restaurant that wants to make a good impression with little, or for a private consumer who wants to impress his guests with moments of tasty freshness. Also very good was the Spritz made with Ca del Vento, the rosé sparkling wine I will tell you about in a moment. The Parmesan was a little young for my taste, but really good quality. We got off to a great start with this welcome aperitif!

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If you propose poached eggs you like to win easy: I love them. And these were cooked to perfection, something not to be taken for granted! Perfectly paired with the rosé sparkling wine that perfectly defatted the mouth with its masterful effervescence. Ca del Vento Rosé is a Martinotti Method of incredible quality, perfect as an aperitif or for delicate risottos. As elegant as all the Venturini Baldini wines I tasted.

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In Reggio Emilia they call them cappelletti, but to me they look like the classic tortellini Bolognese, only with a different filling. For me, being from Romagna, the cappelletto is a beast with a kg of stuffing, more than the nail on my little finger, it fills my palm! Delicious, and perfect pairing with wine, the Rubino del Cerro, one of the best Lambruscos I have ever drunk. Really really good, I highly recommend it! Try it slightly chilled and pair it with your favourite sliced meats for total enjoyment! A good dry and savoury sparkling lambrusco, with berries dancing with sweet spices to envelop the palate with intriguing softness and silky effervescence. Bravissimi!

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The braised cheek on carrot velouté was really good. This TERS is a beautiful project by Venturini Baldini: to create a super tuscans in Emilia, i.e. a Super Emilians. To do this, he chose Malbo Gentile, an indigenous Emilia-Romagna grape variety that is somewhat mistreated, but with great potential, mainly due to the richness and quality of its anthocyanins, its important structure and its ability to develop great flavour, especially when grown in calcareous soils. It smells of black berry fruits, liquorice, ink and tobacco leaves, especially after long ageing in the bottle. In this particular case, the tannin was a little green, but we know the vintage was not the easiest. I look forward to tasting it again from a more fortunate vintage!

Now that the oenologist is Riccardo Cotarella, I would like to hear his position on the matter: what if we tried to make this TERS in the style of Amarone, or rather a dry passito? The thick skin and discreet ageing potential would make me want to play this card, and what do you Giuseppe think?

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I really enjoyed finishing with a classic cream ice cream: refreshing and digestive. The ice cream was not my kind of ice cream: probably water-based or at least with little cream, whereas I like cream much 'richer'. Still, a good ending to a delicious dinner, although of course sparkling wine had nothing to do with it! I tasted it before I asphyxiated my mouth with the cold ice cream. By the way, did you know that the perfect pairing for ice cream is hot sake?

However, this is the top Venturini Baldini sparkling wine we tasted and Giuseppe is very ambitious: he wants to place it in the top 10 Italian bubbles. Will he succeed? There is certainly still a long way to go, but the base is there and the premises are good. The bubble needs to refine a little more, but it has great elegance.

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Shall we make out?"As soon as you enter the lemon house bathroom, you are amazed by a wallpaper that is too cute, a mixture of pop and vintage style that is irresistible. The writing then is a clear invitation, too bad my husband didn't get up from the table!

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I have slept out so many times in my life that I myself am amazed at how different breakfast can be. Here, at Venturini Baldini I found my favourite breakfast: a good brioche with lots of butter that makes it fragrant, a homemade jam and an exquisite tea. The luxury of excellent simplicity.

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Our Experience ended with an old acquaintance: the Honey Drops of Light I told you about just a few months ago in this article. By the way, the millefiori is delicious... but the linden one has an irresistible balsamic hint!

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This report was perhaps a little long... but there is so much to discover in this splendid Emilian chateau! As for me, I can't wait to go back... thanks again for the wonderful experience!

Cheers 🥂

Chiara

P.S. This article has been a bit delayed, but in between I took my Applied Statistics and Economic History exams, so I'm justified... right? Now I'll say goodnight that in four hours I leave for a wonderful Press Tour in Tuscany... curious?

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