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, September 22, 2013

Grammy’s 98th Birthday

This past Monday we celebrated Carol’s mom’s (Grammy as my girls call her) 98th birthday. Yes 98 years young and still going strong.  She has all of her faculties, most important of which is her taste and love of pasta.  Our daughter Lisa & her husband Andy hosted the event at her house, while Carol and I did most of the cooking, save the delicious pepperoni bread Lisa made.  As my mother-in-law’s favorite pasta is Lasagna Napoletana (no meat), I made my Grandma DeRosa’s famous lasagna for her.   I don’t like to brag, but it was, to quote Guy Fieri, “out-of-bounds.”

We began the evening by toasting Grammy with a chilled bottle of 2000 Bellavista Grand Cuvee Pas Opere, a beautifully rich and full-bodied champagne-styled wine from Franciacorta, Italy.  Made from 100% Chardonnay grapes in the classic Methode Champenoise style (a second fermentation occurs in the bottle in which the wine is sold in),  this has long been a favorite with our family.  Not easy to find however.  Wine Legend, Livingston, NJ has the NV Bellavista Franciacorta Cuvee Brut. $32.

To accompany the Bellavista, Carol stuffed Figs that I picked from our fig trees earlier in the day.  She stuffed the sweet and succulent fruits with crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese, slivers of Prosciutto di Parma drizzled them with extra virgin olive oil.  There is nothing like a fresh picked fig and these were incredible.  Fresh Mozzarella slices with tomatoes accompanied the figs on the platter.

The aforementioned Pepperoni Bread (not pictured) complemented the figs and mozzarella, before we settled in at the dinning room table for our sumptuous meal.

We began with the Lasagna with meatballs and sausage.  The beauty of this lasagna is the creaminess of the ricotta cheese filling.   (specifics and the recipe can be found here).

The Lasagna was followed by Carol's Chicken with Sausage, Peppers, Potatoes and Onions. A stand-by Italian favorite at our house for years.  

Of course there was wine to go along with the meal. 

2011 Quintarelli Secco Ca del Merlo Bianco Veronese.  A blend of Garganega, Trebbiano Toscano, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Saorin, this is one terrific wine.  Crisp, fresh, superbly balanced with finesse and focus on the palate, it is simply delicious.  The 2012 is available at 56 Wine, Bernardsville, NJ for $45.

2001 Lopez de Heredia Vina Bosconia Reserva.  Like all Lopez de Heredia wines, this wine is aged in barrel for a minimum of 6 years before seeing additional bottle age before being released.  From the estate's Bosconia vineyard, the wine contains Tempranillo (80%), Garnacho (15%), with Mazuelo and Graciano making up the remainder.  The wine possessed terrific purity on the palate and was beautifully balanced.  It is still a bit young, and will benefit from a few more years of cellar time.  

2001 Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Reserva.  From the Tondonia vineyard, it is slightly different that the Bosconia with in that it is made up of Tempranillo (75%), Garnacho (15%), with Mazuelo and Graciano making up the remainder.  I was disappointed with this bottle, as it seemed to be very tired, with little happening on the palate and a very weak finish.  An off bottle, or something else? I have been reading about concern from LdH lovers that the quality of their Tondonia reds seems to be declining.  I certainly hope that this is not the case.

Both wines are widely available at around $45, and should age well for decades.  Wine-Searcher.

Ice cream cake and all of us singing Happy Birthday "Grammy" concluded a wonderful evening.

Happy Birthday Grammy.  See you next year for number 99!


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