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, March 28, 2013

Friends, Food & Wine

Last week Carol and I had the opportunity to have dinner with good friends over a three-night span.  Our very dear friends Gene and Maureen celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary on Wednesday and asked us to join them to celebrate at Divina Ristorante in West Caldwell.

Anniversaries and Champagne seem to go together perfectly so I bought along a bottle of NV Jacques Selosse Brut Initial (digorged 10/10) to begin the celebration.  This was only my second bottle of a Selosse Champagne, as production is limited and allocations are miniscule.  Persistence however has paid off and I have been fortunate to pick up a couple of bottles here and there over the past year. Selosse, a maverick in the world of champagne, applies the teachings of legendary Burgundy winemakers such as Jean-Francois Coche and Henri Jayer in making his wines, and has thus altered Champagne’s image forever.   Selosse Champagnes are "grower champagnes" which means all the fruit comes from grapes grown in vineyards owned exclusively by the domaine, rather than being purchased from other growers.  The Brut Initial is a blend of 3 vintages of Chardonnay.  The bottle we enjoyed possessed an enticing yeasty bouquet that evolved with each sniff.  On the palate it was rich, creamy, and sublimely balanced. Do not drink this in a Champagne glass or you will miss the beauty of this wine as it evolves over time in your glass.  A Champagne with soul.  For more on Selosse, click here.

I also brought along a bottle from 1971 Franco Fiorina Barbaresco Riserva.  At 42 years of age the wine had as much vibrancy as the happily married couple exhibited tonight.  I decanted the wine for an hour.  It had a wonderful earthy bouquet and opaque brick red hue.  On the palate the fruit was pure, albeit a bit subtle with hints of smoke and leather.  It kept evolving in the glass making for a wonderful experience.  The wine has enough stuff left to last another 10+ years.

With these wonderful wines we enjoyed Penne alla Putanesca, Seafood Provencale, Veal Holstein (veal cutlet with fried eggs on top) and Penne Napoletano.

Gene & Maureen
The next evening found us with friends David and Lynn at La Pergola Ristorante in Millburn, NJ. This was our first time at La Pergola and it will not be our last as the food was very good. Highlights included a perfectly al dente Linguini with Clam Sauce MachiatoSquid Ink Ravioli stuffed with Salmon and LeeksRack of Lamb, Roast Pork Loin and Dover Sole.  We began with 2010 Inama Soave Classico Vigneto du Lot.  Made from 100% Garganega grapes this is one of the best Soaves I have ever had.  It was pure and focused on the palate with nice acidity and balance and finished with some length.  $25.  David tells me he can be purchased online at Get Wine On Line.

Rack of Lamb at La Pergola
The second white was 2008 William Fevre Chablis Vallions.  I wrote about this fabulous Chablis in my post a couple of weeks ago.  Once again the wine was superb, with great purity and balance of the palate.

Our final wine of the evening was 2004 Ada Nada Barbaresco Elisa. This is traditionally made Barbaresco that spends 20 months in small and medium size oak barrels and then another 14 months in bottle before being released. It possesses a wonderful earthy nose and on the palate it is soft with a long elegant finish.  I don’t think the 2004 is still available.  Expect to pay about $40 for current vintages.

On Saturday evening we joined good friends Tony and Fran for yet another terrific evening of food and wine at Il Capriccio Ristorante in Whippany.  We drank Barolo with the meal, beginning with 2005 Teo Costa Monroj Barolo, a wine that Tony and our friend Jack fell in love with last year when they attended the Italian Wine Festival, Vin Italy, in Verona, Italy.  They liked it so much they decided to import it.  The wine had that unmistakeable earthy Piedmontese bouquet that entices the senses and possessed nice up-front fruit and balance on the palate. The back end initially was a bit tannic but softened as the wine sat in the glass.  The wine, which will benefit from a couple of years of cellar time, is available at $40 at Wine Legend, Livingston, NJ.

We then moved to two monumental Barolos from Giuseppe Mascarello1997 & 1993 Giuseppe Mascarello Barolo Riserva Monprivato Ca’ d’Morisso.  The six hectare Monprivato vineyard is renowned for its great terroir, much of which was planted to one of the finest strains of Nebbiolo, the Michét variety, by Maurizio Mascarello in 1921. The Mascarellos own all of Monprivato making this great site now a monopole along the lines of La Tâche in Burgundy.  The soils of Monprivato, coupled with the haunting refinement found in Nebbiolo Michét, produce one of the most compellingly complex and elegant interpretations of Barolo to be found.  For four generations the winemaking style of the Mascarellos has followed a traditional approach that allows for the brilliant underlying terroir of all of their wines, and Monprivato in particular, to take center stage.  Ca’ d’Morisso is only made in outstanding years.  Both of the bottles we drank were magnificent and literally soared from the glass.  Each sip was focused, round and delicious with a very lengthy and elegant finish.  Wines with soul...in spades.

They were the perfect match for the wonderful food prepared by Natale Grande which included Calamari Affogati with SpaghettiniScrigno di Mare ( lobster, jumbo scallops and Maya prawns with oyster mushrooms in “Salsa Americana”), Veal Paillard and Swordfish Oreganata.
Spaghettini w/ Calamari Affogati
Swordfish Oreganata


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