Araxi is pulling out all the stops for the inaugural wine dinner at its newest venue, The Cellar by Araxi, which will play host to one of the biggest names in Italian wine. On Sunday, Feb. 21, The Cellar will welcome Francesco Ricasoli, proprietor of Italy's second-oldest winery Barone Ricasoli and the 32nd Barone of Brolio, for an exclusive dinner that will feature some of the iconic Chianti producer's finest vintages.
"It's absolutely a perfect fit to have such a great producer to christen The Cellar for our wine dinner series," said Araxi wine director Samantha Rahn. "(Ricasoli) wines have always been on my wine list and are some of my favourites, not just for Tuscany and Italy, but my entire list."
The Ricasolis' roots in the famed wine region stretch back to the 12th century, and no name in Chianti is more revered. Bettino Ricasoli, an Italian statesman who served as the country's second prime minister, created the modern recipe for Chianti in 1872 after 30 years of research consisting of 70-per-cent Sangiovese, 15-per-cent Canaiolo and 15-per-cent Malvasia Bianca grapes. The winery is still earning plaudits a century-and-a-half later and is consistently recognized as one of the country's best — the Gambero Rosso Wine Guide recently named it as the Best Italian Winery of the Year.
"For the dinner, we're going to have a complete lineup, including a nice crisp, dry rosé, a nice white wine and then a fabulous sweet wine to finish up. It's going to be quite a night," said Rahn, who is especially excited to feature at least one vintage of the Ricasolis' flagship Chianti: the Castello di Brolio Classico.
"It was one of the first wines at the forefront of a new Chianti designation called Gran Selezione, which is the highest designation you can receive for Chianti," added Rahn.
Award-winning Executive Chef James Walt will work with Rahn to devise a sumptuous five-course menu that will pair nicely with Barone Ricasoli's featured wines, and will undoubtedly draw upon Walt's longstanding passion for Tuscany.
"Chef James has spent nearly a year working with the Canadian ambassador to Italy... and he's spent quite a bit of time in Tuscany, so we'll see some of the Italian influence in his cooking and pairings there," said Rahn. "But the thing about Italian wines in general, wines like Chianti and these other great Tuscan wines were going to taste from Ricasoli, is that they're really made for food. There's a good backbone of acidity to the wines because of the high level of quality of these wines and the complexity of flavours that open up a world of possibilities for pairings."
This is the first dinner of its kind at The Cellar since opening this fall. The space, primarily reserved for private dining and exclusive events, boasts a dedicated wine room and show kitchen for interactive cooking demonstrations.
"It's an absolutely gorgeous space," Rahn said. "The only thing that's happening in that room is whatever event you're participating in and it has that really nice warmth to it that way. It's perfect for mingling."
Tickets are $185, plus tax and gratuity, and are selling fast. Interested guests are asked to contact Rahn at firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets. The dinner starts at 6:30 p.m.