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A Bokx of Australia with a side of Italy

July 14, 2010

I adore wine dinners! What’s not to enjoy about savory food and wine as you sit with the wine maker or rep? Andrea and I started off the evening at Bokx 109 with a couple of glasses of wine from Penley Estate. Kym Tolley, the winemaker from Coonawarra, South Australia not only filled my glass with decadent wines, but also told a love story of him rekindling a teenage romance some 30 years after high school! I think that’s what I enjoy most about wine dinners; it’s not the wine notes or the fancy swirling competitions, it’s hearing directly from the producer about why their grapes are important or what has kept them going through thick and thin.

“I’ve only done two things in my life to make my mother happy,” Kym lamented over crab cake sliders and lightly fried calamari. “I named a wine after her and gave my daughter my mother’s name.” Poor guy! Regardless of perhaps letting down his ma, Kym’s wines were created to kick against the geodes of traditional Australian reds. One of my favorites was the Phoenix Cabernet Sauvignon. There was SO much eucalyptus and ripe fruit, but it didn’t appear overly alcoholic like Aussie wines often do.

Moving on. We left the Penley Estate tasting a little early, bothered the busy executive chef for a moment (maaaybe not a good idea RIGHT smack in the middle of a dinner rush!) and sauntered over to another private room in Bokx. Side note: if you go to Bokx 109 in the summer, you can rent cabana outside for like, $20 bucks then have a bangin’ dinner inside. I noticed a no-shirt,no-service sign, but this scrawny guy kept walking in and out with nothing but a towel on so…

Executive Chef Evan Percoco, me, and Paulo

Regardless, within our private dining room, Paulo De Carvalho of Falseco rolled out his portfolio of wines from both Umbria and Lazio in Italy. The absent winemaker, Riccardo Cotarella, strives to create his wines a little bit outside the box and most of his wines are classified as  “IGT”. Basically, this allows wine makers the freedom to experiment with recipes. (Buyer beware: many IGT can also be crap).  The Falesco wines were paired with a remarkable six-course meal which started with light appetizers including a little chicken wing sans the bone. I just ADORE bit sized food because I don’t feel bad about putting the whole thing in my mouth (insert Steve Carell comment here). Honestly, I sat there at the table gleaning information from the young Paulo while enjoying my savory meal and wine pairing just softly gloating to myself about how fortunate I was to be apart of something so delicious. Not everyone experiences a six-course meal with six different wines in a private room where the executive chef, Evan Percoco, took a moment to stop by and enjoy a glass of wine with us! I was the luckiest wine girl ever… say what you may.

Dining Group at Bokx 109

One of my favorite wines of the night from Falesco was Vitiano Rosso IGT Umbria, an explosive, smoky wine with bitter chocolate mouth feel and dark coffee notes. In my opinion, it was a great little wine! Another red I enjoyed was the Montiano Merlot IGT Lazio, which was crafted in a Bordeaux style. Lot’s of sweet spices and a raspberry and again, that chocolatey vibe. But you know what I really enjoyed? Hearing from everyone around the table chat about the experiences they’ve enjoyed with a glass of wine in hand. Paoulo talked about going to clients in Italy and tasting his wine with them around lunch time. Maybe he’d only see two clients, but Paoulo said in Italy, relationship is the most important aspect of the wine sales business. On the contrary, many USA wine reps rush from account to account, maybe grabbing a sandwich for the car; sure, they see 3-5 people in a day but are they building relationship?

 This tasting at Bokx 109 was memorable for a myriad of reasons aside from the wine itself. I learned that Kym is a romantic and thinks “organic farming” is often used simply to attract public attention;  Paulo gets to eat rich meals when he goes to sell his wines and takes a vested interest in his sales territory. The wine industry is just as much about stories and placing a bottle with a memory as it is making a buck and putting food on the table.

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