I had the owner of IMG Artists, Barrett Wissman, for dinner a few nights ago at my house, and I figured he was tired of eating Italian food. He was in Tuscany during the Tuscan Sun Festival, a weeklong event in Cortona showcasing some of IMG's best artists. So, for something different, I served him a simple Greek salad with chopped cucumber, peeled tomatoes, red onions, black olives and fresh mint from my garden. A lean grilled hamburger made from Chianina beef and topped with mozzarella, lettuce and tomato followed. It was simple and yummy food.
But what to serve with the Greek salad? I thought a fresh but rich and slightly oily white would be the right match. So I opted for a 2006 Antinori Umbria White Cervaro della Sala, a blend of mostly Chardonnay with a touch of Grechetto. The latter is one of the main white grapes used to make Orvieto.
In any case, the white went wonderfully with the fresh, crunchy salad, which was served with toasted Tuscan bread with fresh olive oil and sea salt on top. The wine's apple pie, tropical fruit and mineral character on the nose and palate combined well with the crisp, refreshing flavors in the salad. I gave the wine 94 points, non-blind. Cervaro remains one of the best whites of Italy.
The burgers were to die for since the meat was so flavorful and I mixed in some pressed garlic along with salt and pepper. I served two young reds made near my house: 2005 Sette Ponti Toscana Oreno and 2004 Fattoria Petrolo Toscana Galatrona. Wissman loved the latter, saying he had never had such fine Merlot before.
He is certainly a man of taste, considering the incredible classical musicians and vocalists IMG represents, including such great names as Joshua Bell, Angela Gheorghiu and Jean-Yves Thibaudet. I think he enjoyed the great wines and simple food combination.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Antinori Umbria White Cervaro della Sala 2006 (94, $50).