It’s called the Kobrand Tour d’Italia, and it is, in my opinion, one of the most ambitious wine and food experiences attempted in the 20-plus years that I’ve lived in Kansas City.
It begins in the afternoon of Wednesday, Sept. 13, with a trade tasting featuring eight Italian wineries and their principals and some 70 wines. That’s impressive, but limited.
What got my attention were the four dinners that follow the tasting that evening, which are open the public. Yes, that’s four wine dinners in Kansas City with the owners of famous and fabulous Italian wineries in one night!
“There are some wonderful people coming, like Alberto Chiarlo, the son of Michele Chiarlo in Piedmonte, who’s just a wonderful character. We’ve got Alberto Medici, who’s never been to Kansas City. He’ll be introducing his wonderful new Lambruscos, including the only Lambrusco awarded the tre bicchieri (the highest wine rating in Italy) for eight years in a row,” Keith Paden, Kobrand’s local state manager told me over lunch.
The Tour d’Italia, Kobrand’s sixth annual, begins in Chicago on Monday, Sept. 11, before heading to Detroit and then Kansas City. It’s the first time Kansas City has been selected for the event, a testament to the city’s excellent food and wine scene. Padon says being picked for one of just eight stops is a real honor for the city.
“It’s a once in a lifetime chance for most people to try the wines either at dinner, or for the trade to try 70 great Italian wines in one tasting,” Paden said. “And, they’re all incredible wineries. They’re all family-owned. The owners are coming.”
This is a unique opportunity, or as Paden states, “the chance of a lifetime” to not just taste the wines, but meet the people behind them. The four Kansas City dinners will be held at Jasper’s, Stock Hill, Bluestem, and Michael Smith.
I don’t have the space to detail the menus, but, I’ve seen them and they are exceptional. Each restaurant will have a winery or wineries as their guests and will feature their wines.
At Jasper’s, you’ll find the wines of Tuscany’s Tenuta Sette Ponti and Sicily’s Feudo Maccari. Stock Hill will be serving the wines of Medici Ermete, Michele Chiarlo, and Tenute Ambrogio E Giovanni Folonari Family of Wines. At Bluestem, it’s Pighin and Masi. And at Michael Smith, diners will be treated to food pairings featuring the wines of Tenute Silvio Nardi and Tenuta San Guido!
As a lover of Italian wine and someone who’s traveled to Italy numerous times to film with, meet, and taste the wines of Italy, it just doesn’t get any better than this. I got the very definite sense it’s the same for Paden.
“You know, Kansas City just doesn’t get a lot of the owners of Italian wineries visiting. So, here, seven of the eight wineries will be represented by their owners, which is unique, different, and special,” Paden said. “Not all of us can get to Italy. It’s nice to have a dinner in Kansas City where Italy comes to you.”
I’m not sure about availability at this point. But, if you’re interested the restaurants say to please contact them directly. I, for one, can’t wait!
Dave Eckert is a partner with Flavor Trade, a Kansas City-based gourmet food incubator and co-packer. Before that, Eckert was the producer and host of “Culinary Travels With Dave Eckert,” which aired on PBS and AWE for 12 seasons.