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.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Wine Group at Scalini Fedeli

Our monthly wine group met this past Monday night at Scalini Fedili Ristorante in Chatham.  It was Marc A’s turn to bring the wine and he brought along 6 diverse Italian gems.  Most of the wines were new to us, which was what he was hoping for.  With the exception of one bad bottle, the wines were great and complimented the food very nicely.

As our discussions were lively over these "new" wines, I neglected to pay much attention to what everyone was eating and I took no pictures.  I had a very nice Pan Seared Red Snapper encrusted with bread crumbs and parmigiano and served with lemon flavored gnocchi.  It was quite tasty.

The wines were the stars of the evening.

2006 Paolo Bea Montefalco Rosso Riserva Pipparello, made from 60% Sangiovese, 25% Montepulciano & 15% Sagrantino.  Bea is the quintessential traditional winemaker.  Paolo says "our approach to winemaking is wholly natural." He pursues a natural, non-interventionalist approach. The wines undergo fermentation without temperature control, using only ambient yeasts. Malolactic fermentation takes place in steel, though here, too, the timing and pace is dictated by nature. The wines are neither fined nor filtered prior to being bottled, and all-important operations are undertaken according to the lunar calendar. To be sure, this is high-risk winemaking. The results can be striking, but they can also be quite variable when nature decides to be capricious.  I find his wines stunning. This bottle was gorgeous, full of terroir, focus, depth and complexity.  He has always been a favorite of mine and I have a few vintages of Sagrantino in my cellar, but this was my first experience with the Pipparello…it shant be my last.  $45. Readily available - Wine Searcher.

2006 Nino Negri Sforzato di Valtellina 5 Stelle.  Nino Negri is the premier estate producing wine in the Valtellina DOCG in Italy’s Lombardy region. The Chiavennasca grape (a Nebbiolo clone) is king in the Valtellina.  The grapes are left to dry for 3 months, similar to Amarone in the Veneto, before being vinified on their skins, yielding wines of elegance and finesse. I knew from the first whiff and taste that this wine needed to be sipped slowly so that it could continue to evolve in the glass. I nursed it through the meal and was rewarded with each sip. The wine soared from the glass with glorious fruit and complexity and finished with length and elegance. Truly a wine with soul!  The 5 Stelle bottling is the flagship wine from the estate and is only made from a selection of the best grapes and only in the best years.  $80 at Tribecca Wine Merchants, NYC.

2004 Ar Pe Pe Valtellina Superiore Grumello Riserva Rocca del Piro.  Ar Pe Pe (short for Arturo Pelizzatti Perego) is another top-flight winery in the Valtellina region of Lombardy.  The slate and limestone composition of the soil in the Grumello terroir yields a mineraly and elegant wine.  Made from 100% Nebbiolo, this drank wonderfully.  It possessed an earthy and mineral bouquet, had pure fruit and was nicely balanced.   I really like these wines as a nice change of pace from the bigger Barolo and Barbaresco wines.  $42.  Available – Wine Searcher.

1999 Mastroberardino Taurasi Radici Riserva. Made from 100% Aglianico, this was superb. The wine is aged in oak for 30 months, with an additional 42 months bottle aging before it is released.  Tonight’s bottle was rich, focused, round and delicious and evolved with each sip.  A joy to drink.  About $50 and readily available – Wine Searcher.

2004 Foradori Granato Vino da Tavola.  Bad bottle.  On to the next one.

The final wine of the evening was 2005 Argiolas Turriga.  From Sardinia, this was a new wine for most of us. A blend of Cannonau (85%), Carignano, Malvasia Nera, and Bovale Sardo, the wine is aged in French oak (barrique) for 24 months and in bottle for 12 months.  The oak was well integrated and on the palate the wine displayed good pedigree, depth and focus.  We all liked it.  $70 - Wine Searcher

Consensus WOTN was Nino Negri Sforzato di Valtellina 5 Stelle.  For me this was followed by the Bea and the Taurasi, although the others in the group flip/flopped these two.

Thanks Marc for introducing us to some new and exciting wines.  Jim thanks for dinner.


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