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, March 2, 2014

Dinner at Cosmo's

The things that are most important to me in my life are my family, health, wine, food and true friendship.  I have been blessed with all of these, and for that I am grateful.  One of these true friends is Cosmo, or as I refer to him, Il Grande Cosmo.  The “Grande” does not refer to his belly (although some may argue that point) but rather to his enormous heart, zest for life and lack of bulls..t. There are no pretenses or facades about him.  When he learned that my wife and two daughters were off on their annual Spa vacation at Canyon Ranch in the Bershire Mountains of Massachusetts, he quickly invited me to dinner at his house.  A superb hair-stylist by profession, he is as accomplished in the kitchen as he is in his salon, especially when it comes to making pasta.  A couple of weeks ago I joined him, his wife, son and mutual good friend Gino for Sunday dinner.

Cosmo's favorite white wine is Montrachet.  We have shared numerous bottles together over the years.  On this evening I brought along a bottle of 2006 Leflaive Puligny Montrachet Les Pucelles to enjoy while we picked on an antipasto of Mortadella, Proscuitto, Olives and Mozzarella. Domaine Leflaive is one of the great white Burgundy estates in Burgundy, producing a finesse filled expression of the Chardonnay grape.  The wine began with a seductive bouquet on the nose, while the sensual palate displayed a wonderful stony viscosity, had superb balance, acidity and complexity and finished with tons of class.  The only negative is the $200+ price a bottle will cost you.  Wine Searcher.

As the Leflaive was consumed rather quickly, Cosmo popped open a 2012 Quintarelli Secco Ca del Merlo Bianco Veronese. A blend of Garganega, Trebbiano Toscano, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Saorin, this was classic Quintarelli.  The wine was crisp, fresh, superbly balanced with finesse and focus on the palate.  It was simply delicious.   $45. 56º Wine, Bernardsville, NJ. By the way, Kermit Lynch has become the importer of Quintarelli Wines with the retirement of Robert Chadderdon, thus I am confident that obtaining them in the future will become a lot less difficult.

With our pasta, Bavette Putanesca, I brought along a 1998 Roagna Crichet Pajé Barbaresco.  Bavette is similar to tagliatelle, only a bit narrower. Putanesca (woman of the streets) is one of my favorite pasta dishes.  It begs to be served with long pasta like spaghetti, perciatelli or bavette. Cosmo’s preparation was masterful, with all ingredients (anchovy, hot pepper flakes, capers, olives, garlic & olive oil) coming together in perfect harmony.  The performance of any pasta dish, this one in particular, is dependent on saucing the noodle properly.  Over sauce it and you have chaos on the plate.  Sauce it properly, like this was, and you are transported back to Italy.  Like fine wine, balance and quality ingredients make a huge difference.

The Roagna was superb and a symphonic pairing with the pasta. I opened the bottle 2 hours prior and allowed it to slo-ox (breathe in open bottle).  The Crichet Pajé is their top bottling, coming from their vineyard of the same name. The wine was absolutely magnificent.  On the nose it had an earthy, intoxicating bouquet with an absolute seductive palate that was completely round and delicious.  This wine will provide many more years of drinking pleasure.  A wine with soul!  $90.  I doubt that this will be easy to find. However current vintages of Roagna, especially the Langhe and regular Barbaresco and Barolo should be much easier to find.  These are superb wines, and very reasonably priced.  Wine Searcher.

Il Grande Cosmo is also very adept with veal, as was evidenced by fork tender Veal Scallopine con Funghi (mushrooms).  Cooked to perfection it paired beautifully with 2003 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo that he served with the dish.  The wine was classic Bartolo Mascarello, another terrific expression of traditionally made Barolo.  In addition to its lovely bouquet and gorgeous red hue, the palate was earthy, elegant, complex and the finish had wonderful length.  It was round and delicious with a lengthy and classy finish.  $100 and hard to find.  More recent vintages are available at a similar price.   For ¼ to ⅓rd the price I highly recommend looking for the Dolcetto d'Alba ($23) or the Barbera d"Alba ($35). These are both terrific wines made with the same attention to traditional craftsmanship as the Baroli are.  They can be enjoyed now and over the next 5 to 6 years.

A great meal with great wines deserves a great bottle of dessert wine as a conclusion.  As Cosmo pulled out a bottle of 2001 Chateau d’Yquem, huge smiles appeared on our faces.  Our smiles quickly changed to frowns as the bottle was corked. Fortunately, as I said at the beginning of this post, true friends not only are special, but can always be counted on.  Gino pulled out a bottle of 2001 Chateau Suduiraut Sauternes.  While this may not be d’Yquem it is a terrific house that always produces delicious and affordable Sauternes.  2001 was a monumental vintage and each whiff and sip of this beautifully viscous wine reminded us of that fact. This was kind of like drinking Crème Brulee.  It was simply delicious.  $80.  Wine Searcher.

Grazie mio caro amico per una cena più deliziosa!

Il Grande Cosmo

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