Italy does food well. It also does Metodo Classico sparkling wine very well. These two realities find an ideal intersection at the Locanda Margon in Trentino, located at the end of a lonely mountain drive lined with chestnut trees and Pergola-trained vines in the high altitude Italian Dolomites. The Lunelli family created this MICHELIN-starred restaurant that happens to own the sparkling wine brand Ferrari. It should come as no surprise to learn that the menu at Locanda Margon has been calibrated with absolute precision to meet the challenges of pairing food with the finest sparkling wines including Champagne, Franciacorta, Cava and méthode traditionnelle wines from England and beyond.
A special luminosity distinguishes the mountainous north of Italy and puts the jagged pinnacles and razor-edged rocks of the Dolomites into startling focus. There is a pervasive obsession with accuracy here in Trentino and Alto Adige that inspires one of Italy’s most promising up-and-coming restaurant scenes. I normally would not feature a winery-owned restaurant, but my eating experience at Locanda Margon left me with a thoroughly inspired post-prandial glow and I am excited to recommend this restaurant to our readers.
Chef Alfio Ghezzi helmed the kitchen at Villa Margon for nine years and recently left to head the new Senso restaurant in the Mart Modern Art Museum in Rovereto. In July, chef Edoardo Fumagalli, who previously worked at Le Taillevent in Paris and Daniel in New York Ciy, replaced him. However, Ghezzi prepared the dishes I have written about here. He also offered a few key tips to cooking a meal featuring bollicine, or bubbly wines.
“Sparkling wines are spirited, fresh and special, but they are also transversal because they can accompany all kinds of dishes, served at either lunch or dinner, if you pay close attention to the variety, the millésime and the dosage,” says chef Ghezzi.
“One must take care to follow a few simple rules, like avoiding strong spices, reduction sauces and concentrated or intense flavors. One must instead favor the ‘pseudo-sweet’ flavors that can otherwise be defined as ‘soft.’ If these basic guidelines are followed, the finesses and persistence of a sparkling wine will find compatibility,” he says.
My lucky lunch included three magnums from Ferrari: the 2006, 2004 and 1992 Trento Metodo Classico Extra Brut Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore. The Riserva del Fondatore is an iconic Italian sparkling wine. Having three large format vintages an arm’s length away throughout the entire meal meant that I could mix and match as I pleased.
The youngest wine, the 2006 Trento Metodo Classico Extra Brut Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore, hit the market just a few years ago after 10 years of aging on the lees. From a classic and slightly cooler vintage, the wine flaunts its relative youth with linear and pinpoint aromas of stone fruit and delicate citrus followed by Italian pastry or freshly baked bread. Those sharper edges made for pleasant contrasts against the opulent ravioli del plin con zafferano di montagna e burro acido. These are hand-folded ravioli with paper-thin pasta topped with saffron and a sweet and sour butter cream sauce. The wine’s beading is tonic, clean and linear. It deftly cut through the more consistent and extremely succulent elements of this unforgettable dish.
The 2004 Ferrari Trento Metodo Classico Extra Brut Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore opened quickly to display a more enriched or textured personality. That extra time in bottle has allowed the wine to take on more volume. Its width, dimension and measured beading played out nicely against the hucho hucho, rapanelli e salsa di sedano rapa alla griglia. This is a freshwater fish from the extended salmon family served with radishes and a sauce made from grilled knob celery roots. I also paired the beautiful 1992 Ferrari Trento Metodo Classico Extra Brut Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore with this playfully creative and immaculately designed entrée. This wine delivers the complexity of its age with extremely fine beading and a more pronounced savory component that recalls cheese rind, bread crust or white button mushroom. This magnum was disgorged in 2014.
My lunch at Locanda Margon concluded with the highly photogenic and equally delicious cara dolce rosada, crema rosata, croccante di pasta kataifi, lamponi e petali di rosa. This is rose cream with crunchy kataifi or phyllo pastry served with fresh raspberries and rose petals.