Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Montemercurio 'Messaggero' at Palinuro Italian Katy

Montemercurio 'Messaggero' at Palinuro Italian Restaurant Katy

For a team workshop with our tech team in Houston, we held a dinner at Palinuro Italian restaurant in Katy (TX). Since their opening in 2019, owner/manager Gabriele and staff have developed a reputation for innovative Italian cuisine in the style of his southern Italian seaside hometown Palinuro, after which the restaurant is named. 

Gabriele applies skills honed over 15 years in the restaurant industry mastering old world techniques of handmade pasta, finest ingredients and imaginative preparations and presentations, in a trendy comfortable hospitable setting.

Executive Chef Paolo also has Italian roots, on the Italian island of Sardinia, and has been developing his culinary skills for over 40 years in Italy and in restaurants in Santa Monica, West Hollywood, and Beverly Hills.

I studied the menu earlier in the day and pre-selected my dinner entree choices, but when our host and server, Jorge, presented the daily specials, I opted for the Vitello Marsalla, grilled veal chop marinaded with fresh herbs and garlic served in a marsala sauce with mashed potatoes and spinach. 

Others in our group selected the Sea Bass, but when we exceeded the number of available plates, several deferred to an alternate, the special substitution Salmon offering. 

Jorge also promoted the pasta special featuring Fettucini served in a highly recommended house specialty Truffle Parmesan Reggiano sauce with fresh shaved truffle. This was presented in and served from a large cheese wheel at tableside (shown right). 

I requested a side dish of this special selection and it was fantastic, an incredibly delicious preparation of truffle, cheese and pasta, a new reference benchmark for Fetuccini Alfredo.   

Everything was exceptional from the soup and salads to the entrees and the dessert course. All were served with stylish presentations and attentive professional service. The dinner was spectacular in all respects and definitely worth checking out, and we'll look forward to returning if the occasion rises.

From the winelist I selected an Le Volte dell’Ornellaia, the baby brother of a fabulous wine we had at a dinner recently at Italian Village, Chicago. This wine was not available and Jorge suggested and offered this Super Tuscan instead.

Palinuro don't show their winelist on their website. When presented, I was surprised and impressed by the Palinuro winelist, while somewhat small or limited, it offered a creative and thoughtful selection - all Italian, especially the aged bottles such as this one (even though the vintages were not shown), and the super premium labels such as the grand vin flagship Ornellaia.

Montemercurio Messaggero Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 2011

From the Palinuro winelist we were served this big red that proved to be a wonderful choice and an ideal pairing with our Italian fare, and a high QPR - quality price ratio, value selection.

Montemercurio is a small estate located just outside the town of Montepulciano, a medieval Renaissance hill town in the Italian province of Siena in southern Tuscany. It is located about 75 miles southeast of Florence, 115 miles north of Rome.

Montepulciano is also the center of the so-named wine-producing region, known for producing Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, the DOCG designated (Denominazione di origine controllata e garantita) name for the Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti Classico labels, the principal red wines of Tuscany.

Montepulciano wines are made primarily from the Sangiovese grape varietal (known locally as Prugnolo gentile), from a minimum of 70 to 100%, sometimes blended with Canaiolo Nero and small amounts of other local varieties such as Mammolo. The DOCG wines are aged for 2 years, at least 1 year in oak barrels, and for three years if it is a "riserva". (The wine should not be confused with Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, a red wine made from the Montepulciano grape in the Abruzzo region of east-central Italy.)

Azienda Agricola Montemercurio is owned by the Anselmi/Luciani family, run by Marco Anselmi. The estate was developed by Marco's grandfather, Damo, who planted many of the vines over 60 years ago. The estate terroir consists of clay and limestone soils sitting at an altitude of 450 meters. 

The Messaggero labeled wine is aged in large Slavonian oak barrels for 3 years, followed by a minimum of 18 months bottle. Marco refuses to release his wines until he feels they are ready to drink, consequently his current release may be five years behind what other producers in the region are selling.

Montemercurio Messaggero is 100% Sangiovese, crafted from the careful selection of the best Sangiovese grapes that have been cultivated in the optimum zones of the DOC region from those vineyards that produce grapes of the highest quality.

Dark garnet color with brick highlights, medium bodied, complex and powerful yet approachable with concentrated black cherry fruits with notes of leather and tobacco with hints of mint, tea and mineral with firm round tannins on the finish. 

RM 91 points. 

This was an ideal accompaniment to the zesty and flavorful Italian dishes - an excellent recommendation - and at ten years of age - nicely integrated and mature, likely at the apex of its drinking window.