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.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Old Barolo Lunch

Yesterday four of us celebrated our friend Tony’s 49th birthday at Il Capriccio Ristorante in Whippany NJ.  We brought along three very old Baroloi to drink with our meal.  Older wines, especially from Piedmonte, can be a hit or miss, which is why it is essential to know the provenance of these older wines when purchasing them.  If they have been with one owner since acquisition and properly stored, there is a very good chance the wine will be very good.  If not, my advice is to pass on the wine.  I am happy to say that all three wines drank very well, suggesting excellent provenance.  We drank them side-by-side to compare, not rate, them.

The 1958 Cappellano Barolo had that wonderful Piedmont earthy bouquet that tantalized our expectations.  While there was some bricking in the color, the hue retained the gorgeous transparency of a much younger wine.  On the palate the wine was pure, elegant, round and delicious.  I believe with proper cellaring, this wine will last another couple of decades.

The 1964 Barolo Borgogno had quite a bit of sediment that yielded a bit of cloudiness to the brick red hue of the wine.  On the palate however, the wine had great purity and a sense of place and was comparable to the Cappellano.   While there was nice fruit here also, it was less so than the Cappellano.  I would drink this wine up in the next couple of years.

1961 Marchesi di Barolo Barolo Gia Opera Pia had an unbelievable deep red hue that was more reminiscent of a 10-year-old Barolo, not a 52 year old one.  The bouquet was heavenly and reminiscent of a great old Barolo.  While enjoyable, it lacked the fruit of the other two and had a shorter finish.

L to R, "61 Marchesi; 1964 Borgogno; 1958 Cappellano
Risotto Fragollini
Wines like this are enhanced by great food, which is why we keep going back to Il Capriccio and the superb food prepared by Natale Grande.  After an appetizer of Tuna & Red Snapper crudo (raw fish) we each sampled Risotto Fraggolini and we were very glad we did.  This is the kind of different and creative dish that Natale is always coming up with. In this dish he makes the risotto with berries (strawberries, raspberries & blue berries) and mascarpone cheese.  It is a perfectly balanced dish that will seduce your palate.

Spaghetti & Meatballs
In 2008 I had the pleasure of visiting Baldo Cappellano at his winery in Serralunga, Italy.  I commented to him on how good his wines were.  They were pure, simple and delicious.  He said to me "Quality comes from great ingredients prepared simply, like a plate of Spaghetti with a simple sauce."  In honor of Baldo (he passed away a couple of years ago) I ordered Spaghetti & Meatballs to go along with his wine.  Natale's "Flying Meatballs" as he calls them were moist, tender and delicious and the spaghetti was perfectly al dente. Baldo would have been impressed.

Spaghetti with mixed seafood, Trofie pasta with rabbit ragu and Dover Sole were the main courses enjoyed by my friends before we popped open a bottle of 2001 Chateau Climens Sauternes to enjoy with our coffee.  2001 was a superb year in Sauternes and this wine is testimony to that fact.  It has a lush fruity bouquet with a palate of tropical fruit.  My only problem with Sauternes is that the Botrytis (noble rot) that creates the wine imparts a medicinal finish that distracts from my complete enjoyment of the wine.
Happy birthday Tony, we enjoyed sharing it with you.


No comments:

Post a Comment