By Robin Wilson

Fausto Zeni and iYellow’s Angela Aiello at Nota Bene.

Italy’s Fausto Zeni recently graced Nota Bene, bringing with him some of his family’s acclaimed wines and Italian charm. iYellow Wine Group, in conjunction with Zeni, hosted an Italian flavoured dinner that had taste buds across the room exploding with bliss.

Starting the evening with a casual reception, guests commenced with the first of five wines that were to be expected. A little worried that by the main course, I might resemble a recently fed vampire, I found myself trying not to think that perhaps it would have been a good idea to pack a toothbrush. But once I heard multiple Amarones were to be expected later on that night, I simply stopped caring.

The evening’s menu.

Hats off to Chef David Lee, who created a scrumptious menu, in efforts of highlighting each wine to his flavours. I most certainly enjoyed his fluorescent red beef carpaccio that had you going back for more Valpolicella Ripasso with each bite. But as far as Fausto’s wines went, the best had yet to come.

Compared to most of the world’s wines, Amarones are quite different in their production. Instead of the traditional skin fermentation process, Amarones undergo raisining of the grapes for approximately four months prior to the traditional process, concentrating the sugars within the grapes. The result is a deep rich ruby red wine that is much higher in alcohol content than others… my kind of wine! So you can understand my enthusiasm when I discovered the treat of three Amarones to savor alongside some rich Nota Bene courses, especially as I had only ever tried two before… they are not the cheapest of wines, and I’m no Bay Street Executive. Tasting these was quite a treat. The passion and respect that lies within the production and promotion of these wines oozes out of each person that plays a role in its distribution. From Fausto Zeni’s family back in Verona, to the rowdy Italian men at the end of my table who so proudly represent them.

GFR’s Robin Wilson making some new friends…

Once my teeth (as well as others) were done-in, as expected, it was clear Zeni and iYellow Wine Group had conjured up a great soiree – in hopes of spreading the work of Zeni’s Veronese wines. Minimal efforts had to made however, as they really do speak for themselves. And unfortunately I can’t even advise you to pay a visit to the LCBO any time soon to put your money where my mouth is (or ‘money where my words’ are as it were), as most of their wines have already sold out. No need to freak though, more cases are just a few months away, giving us just enough time to build up our Amarone Funds. Specifically, I’ll be recommending the Vigne Alte, Amarone della Valpolicella for those like myself, who prefer fruitier reds. But if tannin-rich and full-bodied wines are more up your ally, definitely hit up the Barriques, Amarone della Valpolicella.

For more information on Fausto Zeni, the winery and their story, please click here.

Robin Wilson is a avid eater who enjoys the finer things in life… including Italians.