Our Journal

A gourmet night with Paolo and Luca De Marchi at Theo Randall at The Intercontinental, London

A gourmet night with Paolo and Luca De Marchi at Theo Randall at The Intercontinental, London

24th July, 2014

A gourmet night with Paolo and Luca De Marchi at Theo Randall at The Intercontinental, London

Tom Jones (sales) shares his impressions of a gourmet evening of food and wine with Paolo and Luca De Marchi. 

"Extra-cool air-conditioning coupled with a glass of wonderfully chilled Proprietà Sperino Rosa di Rosa 2013 was the perfect welcome to sweltering, muggy Thursday evening when entering the private dining room of Theo Randall at The Intercontinental, Park Lane.  

While we were all introduced to Luca and Paolo, we were served a bruschetta with creamy Mozzarella di Bufala and succulent grilled red peppers, marinated violet artichokes, Taggiasche olives and Swiss chard. Theo Randall worked the room, sharing with us many stories of his longstanding dealings with Liberty Wines, specifically visiting Paolo at Isole e Olena in 1993 with David Gleave MW and falling in love with the amazing wines from the two family owned estates, Proprietà Sperino and Isole e Olena.  

Our second antipasto was smoked eel with red and golden beetroots, Italian leaves and fresh horseradish. This was perfectly paired with the Isole e Olena Chardonnay 2012, matching almost identically in smokiness, the wine having steely acidity to cut through the oily eel.  

The reason for Chardonnay as a single variety at Isole, as told by Paolo, was that it was used before the 70s, and traditionally over the years as part of the Chianti blend (10% of blend used to be white mandatorily), but theirs proved so good that they released their first single variety Chardonnay to the market in 1987.  

Both our small plate of Parma ham and our primi dish of cappelletti di vitello (fresh pasta stuffed with slow cooked veal and pancetta with trompette and Porcini mushrooms) were served alongside the Isole e Olena Chianti Classico 2011 and 2012. The succulent, soft tannins in the 2011 went wonderfully with the fatty ham, and the 2012’s slightly tighter palate was softened by the juicy veal stuffed pasta. The 3-5% of Syrah in the blend was noticeable, pairing a hint of spice with the mushrooms.  

Our secondi was a choice between chargrilled longhorn sirloin steak, veal chop or roast rump of lamb. I plumped for the wood roasted veal chop with datterini tomatoes, Italian spinach and salsa verde. This turned out to be the choice of the night, being served a hunk of beautifully cooked meat as big as my face. This course was paired with the highlight of the night – a vertical tasting of Cepparello 2008, 2009 and 2010, each of which tore through the succulent flavoursome veal, and their fruit was enhanced by the sweetest, most delicious datterini tomatoes that were ‘as sweet as grapes’ (to quote Theo Randall).  

The Cepparellos were a delight, the ‘08 being the smoothest with gentle well developed soft tannins and perfectly aged fruit, the ‘10 showed its youth, but with all the promise of the previous vintages. The highlight of the flight was the ‘09 which was full of character, bold flavours of cherry and red fruit and spice. All products, according to Paolo, of an excellent vintage that will age for years.  

The cheese course, which included creamy aromatic slices of Pecorino Ubriaco and Taleggio Valsassina were ideally accompanied by the spicy Isole e Olena Syrah 2007 and herbaceous and fruity Cabernet Sauvignon 2010.  

A petit fours treat at the end of the meal was served with the decadent and mouth-watering Isole e Olena Vin Santo 2005. To top the night off, Paolo thought it only fair to order a bottle of Proprietà Sperino ‘Il Bandit’ Cabernet Franc, which sent everyone home with a mouthful of scrumptious tannins and deep, dark fruitiness…  

Paolo and Luca’s knowledge was outstanding. A delight to listen to and converse with such lovely men over a fantastic meal was a dream come true. Their insight into the wines, estates, regions and Theo Randall’s food was second to none. A great night and one that will be cherished."