About this Blog

The blog focuses on the essence of wine and food, not how many points or stars it receives. The opinions are mine and should be taken only as that, an opinion not gospel.

Like many collectors, initially I was very much influenced by wine ratings. I purchased wines based on points, even if I had never tasted the wine. And it was much worse than that. I would drink a wine with a high rating, not like it, yet since it was highly rated I’d rationalize that I did not yet appreciate the wine, or that my palate was not sophisticated enough to understand the wine. How’s that for lunacy? As a result my cellar grew in all directions while my palate narrowed. By the time I realized the style of wine that I enjoyed, my cellar abounded with wines whose styles I did not enjoy. All of these wines were very highly rated, just not my cup of tea, or glass of wine to be more accurate. Fortunately I was able to sell many of these wines to those who either enjoyed them or wanted highly rated wines. Don’t misunderstand, I am not against wines with high ratings, in fact I own many. It is just that I now purchase wines based on the producer, the style and my palate, not the rating. Nor do I shun reading reviews. I very much respect Antonio Galloni, Alan Meadows, Eric Asimov and John Gilman and read their reviews routinely. I pay attention to what they write, not the points they award.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Super Bowl XLV

For the past 4 years a group of friends have come to our house to watch the Super Bowl and partake of good food and wine. Everyone brings something and a grand time is had by all. This year was no exception.

Our gastronomic indulgence began with two stuffed breads from Bono’s Italian Specialties, Little Falls, NJ. These stuffed (actually overstuffed) breads are delicious. Today we had pepperoni & mozzarella bread and Italian hot dog bread. Alongside the breads was Tina’s magnificent eggplant casserole. She fries cubes of eggplant in olive oil than mixes this into a perfectly seasoned San Marzano tomato sauce. Finally she tops it with some Parmigiano Reggiano chesse. An amazing dish.

For our buffet we feasted on George’s mixed green salad with his delicious homemade vinaigrette; Gene’s famous pulled pork sliders with his spicy BBQ sauce (secret ingredient to the sauce he confessed is Root Beer). The sliders were topped with coleslaw Bill and Linda brought from Pennsylvania. It was a beautiful compliment to the pulled pork sliders. Bill claims it came from a very good deli in West Chester, PA.

Along side the pulled pork was Cosmo’s Hot sausage with peppers & onions. With sausage from Garutto’s Butcher Shop in Nutley and the culinary expertise of Il Grande Cosmo, these made excellent sandwiches when served on Vitiello Bakery (also Nutley) Italian rolls. Finally there were my meatball sliders. I make these with a mixture of beef and veal and I fry them as opposed to baking them before putting them into the sauce. If I must say so, they are crowd pleasers. For dessert we enjoyed pastries from Vaniero’s Bakery in NYC compliments of Peter & Amelia and homemade brownies compliments of Gerri G. Everything was delicious. My thanks to all for their contributions. And now, on to the wines:

The Whites:

2008 Pepiere Muscadet de Sevre et Maine Sur Lie les Gras Moutons Cuvee Eden. The grape, Melon de Bourgogne, is grown in the Loire Valley in France. This is a terrific crisp white wine that is pure and beautifully balanced on the palate and at $15 a bottle a great buy. The wine is imported by Louis Dressner Selections. Mr. Dressner’s portfolio is comprised of small artisanal producers who’s wines, in Mr. Dressner’s own words, “…are honestly crafted”. If you see his name on a bottle, rest assured it is a wine worth trying. Any wine I have tasted from one of his selections has never disappointed me.

2008 Ceretto Arneis Blange, my wife’s favorite wine. From the Rorero region of Piedmont, Italy the wine has a little spritz when first opened. It drinks very easily and is quite good. About $22 a bottle.

The Reds:

Two of the wines were unfortunately seriously flawed. My good friend Gino had them in his cellar and thought we should try them. The first was a 1925 Chateau Margaux. The fill of the bottle was short, not a good omen. The wine was brown and terribly oxidized. The second bottle was a 1964 Barbera & Figli Barolo. This wine, while the fill was fine, suffered from the same fate as the Margaux.

1981 Castello Banfi Brunello. This wine was superb. It showed amazing youth for its age. There was a brown tint to the wine, but the nose was earthy and enticing. On the palate it was pure and balanced. It was a great expression of an old world Brunello. Thank you Cosmo.

2006 Camille Giroud Marsannay Les Longeroles (2 bottles). The favorite wine of the day for most of the ladies, and rightfully so. This Bourgogne level wine was delicious. The wine expressed the essence of youth, freshness and purity on the palate. Delightful. Camille Girould is one of my favorite producers of old world Burgundy. While the Premier Cru and Grand Cru wines from this vineyard are quite expense the entry level (Bourgogne) wines like this Marsannay are very affordable at about $25 a bottle. They offer a great introduction to the elegance that the Pinot Noir grape exhibits. The winery was purchased in 2001 by Ann Colgin, the cult California wine maker. Winemaking however is under the excellent direction of David Croix, who continues the old world tradition of winemaking. Thank you David.

1997 La Spinetta Barbaresco Vigneto Gallina. The California wine drinkers in the crowd really enjoyed this wine. La Spinetta wines see 100% new oak thus attributing to, at least for me, a more modern style wine similar to most California wines. Personally I do not feel that the $90 price tag is a bit to steep for this mediocre juice.

1999 Quintarelli Valpolicella. If you have read my previous blogs you will know that I am a huge fan of Quintarelli wines. These are beautifully crafted wines. Open these wines several hours (even a day or two) before drinking and you will be rewarded with a majestic wine experience, as was the case with this bottle. Completely round and delicious. Nothing more to say. $70.

1997 Bertani Amarone. This was a gift I received a couple of years ago. I thought we would compare it with a 1998 Quintarelli Amarone. No contest. While the Bertani was pleasant to drink it lacked the purity, balance and lengthy finish of the Quintarelli. It was a ho-hum wine with a $150 price tag. The Quintarelli, which will set you back $300+ for a bottle, is a classic Amarone that is worth every penny.

1996 Giuseppe Mascarello Barolo Monprivato. Outstanding. Still in its youth the wine offers a preview of what a spectacular wine this is going to be in 4 or 5 years. A classic expression of the beauty of the Nebbiolo grape and the Piedmonte terroir. Pure elegance on the palate. Monprivato is a 6 hectare vineyard that the Mascarellos now own all of, making this great site now a monopole along the lines of La Tâche. $150.

1989 d’Yquem capped the evening. A spectacular vintage. Pure nectar on the palate with a rich, opulent finish. The wines of Chateau d’Yquem are amongst the most sought after wines in the world and so command a very high price. I was fortunate to obtain a bottle in 1999 for a fraction of the $350 - $400 price one would have to pay today. For what it is worth d’Yquem was Thomas Jefferson’s favorite wine.

Wonderful food, terrific wine, the company of good friends and an exciting football game contributed to a most enjoyable Super Bowl Sunday.

Congratulations to the Green Bay Packers for their Super Bowl victory.