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.

Monday, December 23, 2013

La Festa di Tartufi at Del Posto Ristorante

I had the pleasure along with friends Emil and Tony to attend the white truffle gala dinner hosted by Antonio Galloni and Mario Batali at Del Posto Ristorante in NYC last month. It was a pretty spectacular event.  As you may or may not know, Antonio was one of the wine reviewers for Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate for the past 5 or 6 years.  In addition to his primary focus on Italian wines, he also reviewed Burgundy, Champagne and California wines.  I find his reviews to be very well done and very insightful.  Earlier this year he left the Wine Advocate and started his own website, Vinous.  Vinous has it all, insightful reviews, timely articles, incredible video interviews and the best wine bulletin board on the Internet.  It is definitely worth checking out.

Back to the event, which began with a complimentary Champagne cocktail hour for premium Vinous members (explained on the site).  This was no ordinary Champagne tasting.  It featured the six Champagnes from Jacques Selosse that he refers to as the Lieu-Dit (single vineyard) Project. In the fall of 2010, Anselme (Jacques son) announced that he'd be releasing a collection of six lieu-dit (single-vineyard) wines, each promising to be the definitive expression of a noble Champagne village.  As I understand it his intent is to demonstrate the difference the site makes in the crafting of a wine.   He has succeeded in spades.

Quite simply these were the best Champagnes I have ever tasted. Only 200 special cases, holding 1 bottle each of these magnificent wines are made. They are extremely rare, very expensive and very difficult to acquire.  Antonio was extremely gracious and generous to serve them prior to the dinner.

The Lieux-Dits Pinot Noir (Blanc de Noirs)

La Cote Faron Blanc de Noirs is from the village of Ay.  I think this was from the 2005 vintage. Whatever the vintage, it was magnificent, beginning with its golden yellow hue and earthy bouquet.  On the palate it was medium-bodied, with impeccable balance and very elegant.

Le Bout du Clos is from Ambonnay.  This was my favorite of the six.  It had everything; yeasty bouquet, creamy palate, layer upon layer of complexity and a lengthy finish.  I believe this is a blend of “04, ’05 and ’06 vintages.  Only 200 bottles of this is made, so it is only available in the Lieu-Dits 6 pack.

Sous Le Mont is from Mareuil-Sur-Ay, is comprised of the “05 and ’06 vintages.  I found this to be a little less complex than the two previous wines, but delicious nonetheless.

The Lieux-Dits (Blanc de Blancs)

The Chemin de Chalons, from Cramant and based on wines from 2003 to 2005.  Stunning wine, but perhaps a step behind the Pinot Noirs.

The Les Chantereines from Avize, was clearly the best of the Chardonnay based wines and on a par with the Le Bout du Clos is from Ambonnay in my opinion.   It had great focus, depth and complexity.  I believe this was from vintages ’04, ’05 and ’06.  Like the Champagne from Ambonay, only 200 bottles of this is made, so it is only available in the Lieu-Dits 6 pack.

The final wine of this group, Les Carelles from Le Mesnil-sur-Oge
was a half-step behind wine from Avize.  Wonderful balance and complexity on the palate.

Tasting these amazing Champagnes was an experience I will never forget. In my opinion they alone were worth the price of the event.

The Dinner and the wines

The wines served as part of the dinner all drank very well, especially the 2004 Baroli.  Yes they were young, but they were really delicious and will provide awesome drinking for a couple of decades at least.

All dishes were served with very generous shavings of fresh white truffles.  Life is good!

The dinner began with an absolutely delicious Truffled Beef Carne Cruda.

Malvira “Trinita” Roero Arneis 2009.   A very clean, crisp Arneis, with lovely minerality. 

Vajra Langhe Bianco 2012.  A nice effort here.  Very nice fruity palate and delicious finish.

Veal and Pork Agnolotti dal Plin. 

Giacomo Conterno "Ceretta" Barbera 2011.  One of the best Barbera’s I have ever drank. Terrific balance and finesse on the palate with a lush finish.

Vietti "Scarrone" Barbera 2009.  Good, but second fiddle to the Conterno.

Risotto alla Vacca Rossa.  Sorry no photo, but it was superb.  

Giuseppe Mascarello "Monprivato" Barolo 2004 and Giacomo Conterno "Cascina Francia" Barolo 2004.  Both of these wines soared from the glass, beginning with an earthy bouquet of Piedmont terroir and a rich, focused and elegant palate.  These beauties will last for a few decades at least, but provide pleasure now at this young age.

Broiled Veal Chop with Barolo Fondo.

Cavallotto "Bricco Boschis" Barolo 2004.  While his was still a bit tight, there is great pedigree here.  This promises to be awesome in a few more years.

Conterno-Fantino "Vigna del Gris" Barolo 2004.   I find his wines a bit modern, but the oak was very well integrated here and as a result drank very well.  My least favorite of the ‘04s.

La Tur (Creamy blend of cow, goat and sheep milk cheese from Piedmonte.)

Elio Altare Barolo 2004 and Luigi Pira "Marenca" Barolo 2004.  Both of these traditional Baroli complemented the cheese very nicely.

As good as these wines were, my friends and I were fortunate to be seated at Antonio’s table for the dinner. He continued his generosity by bringing some amazing wines from his cellar to share with the attendees.  These, along with the Selosse Champagnes, were the highlight wines of the evening in my opinion.  

2009 Miani Bianco (Magnum). This was superb juice.  Incredible balance and delicacy on the palate with a lengthy soft finish.  I wish Miani's wines were easier to acquire, as they are simply gorgeous.

1985 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo (Magnum).  Delicious wine, still very young and vibrant.  The essence of old world Barolo.

1989 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo (Magnum).  Even better than the ’85. What a magnificent wine, completely round and delicious.  A wine with soul!

1996 Luciano Sandrone Barolo Cannubi Boschis.  This drank with elegance and finesse.  A terrific wine.  I know that Sandrone uses some modern techniques in his winemaking, but the results are always great.

2003 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Falletto Di Serralunga.  Classic Giacosa, with gorgeous pure fruit, superb balance and a long elegant finish.

2003 Giacomo Conterno Barolo.  I missed this one.

2003 Giuseppe Mascarello e Figlio Barolo Monprivato Ca d'Morissio Riserva.  Still a bit young, but stunning non-the-less.  Great pedigree here.

2004 Domenico Clerico Barolo Ciabot Mentin Ginestra (3L).  Most modern of the Baroli at the table.  Wine drank very well.  Oak was well integrated into the wine and it had a lovely soft and elegant palate.

2003 Giuseppe Mascarello e Figlio Barolo Monprivato.  From the more difficult 2003 vintage, this was very good indeed.  Lots of finesse and character here.

In addition ot Antonio, most of the attendees at the dinner also brought along a bottle or two of some pretty great wines.  I brought along two bottles of 1993 Edoardo Valentini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.  Unfortunately one bottle was corked, but the other was simply stunning.  The wine was still very young and alive.  It possessed wonderful soft, pure fruit with a superbly balanced and complex palate and long elegant finish.  

Emil brought a 2000 Roagna Barberesco Crichet Paje, that was singing.  It had a fabulous nose with glorious and balanced fruit on the palate.  Still a baby and should last for a few more decades.

Tony brough a 1967 Giacomo Borgogno Barolo.  At 46 years of age this still exhibited a lot of life.  Gorgeous bouquet and elegant palate.

Quite an evening and quite a line up of wines, especially when you consider there were many other great wines other attendees brought along that I did not taste (only so much I can drink).

Great job Antonio and Mario.  Certainly a wine experience that I will never forget.


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