We began the evening with a magnum of 2008 Marc Hebrart Special Club Champagne that was brought along by our guest for the evening Chris Cree, MW. This was a spectacular bubbly fashioned from 60% Pinot Noir (from Mareuil and Aÿ) and 40% Chardonnay (from Oiry and Chouilly). The wine is made completely in stainless steel and exhibited lovely pure fruit, crispness and spectacular focus while finishing with mouth-watering elegance. The only way to experience a Champagne of this magnitude is to drink it from large wine glasses as we did. Each sip evolved more than the previous one. $250 (mag) Wine-Searcher.
1996 Francesco Rinaldi Barolo Cannubbio DOCG. The great traditionalist estate of Francesco Rinaldi e Figli is one of the great names of Piedmont. Located in the town of Barolo itself, the domaine has a long and illustrious history in the region. The estate was founded in 1870, when Francesco Rinaldi inherited a vineyard and house in Barolo. One hundred and forty-four years later, much of the same techniques are still used in the Francesco Rinaldi cellars to produce some of Barolo’s greatest wines heaped within the great old world traditions of Barolo... no new oak, long macerations and long aging in large Slovenian oak Botti prior to bottling. Tonight’s bottle had a nose that seemed to be set in antiquity and a hue that belonged to recent vintages. The palate was rustic and terroir laden with superb balance and complexity. It was a joy to savor each remarkable sip. My only real negative was that I felt it finished a bit short. There does not appear to be anymore of the ’96 available in the USA. For other vintages try Wine-Searcher.
1996 Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo Brunate – Le Coste DOCG. Cousin to Francisco Rinaldi, Giuseppe has emerged as my personal favorite maker of traditional Barolo. Tonight’s wine hit on all cylinders and literally soared from the glass with complexity, balance, elegance and every other adjective one could use when describing an extraordinary wine. The wine is a blend of grapes from two of his finest vineyards, Brunate and Le Coste. This wine has long been a favorite of Barolo lovers. Unfortunately the Italian wine laws have once again reared the foolish heads. Beginning with the 2010 vintage, the law prohibits a wine maker from putting the name of more than one vineyard on the label even though it allows fruit from more than one vineyard. Go figure. $295. The Rare Wine Company.
1996 Giuseppe Mascarello Barolo Monprivato DOCG. The wine is beginning to enter what should be a long and glorious drinking period. This is a powerful Barolo that is firing on most, but not all cylinders, at the moment. Still a bit closed as compared to the three previous wines. The fruit is not completely awake. The wine did however finish with elegance and length. There is phenomenal pedigree here. This is destined to be a blockbuster. $295 The Rare Wine Company.
1996 Giuseppe Mascarello Barolo Monprivato CA’ D’ Morissio Riserva. Like the regular Monprivato, the Riserva is beginning to stir from its sleep. While the wine was still a bit tight, the elegant fruit has begun to blossom. This is a superb wine, balanced, complex and focused and like the regular will be an absolute blockbuster in a couple of years. Unless you have access to a private cellar, there does not seem to be anymore of this around.
1996 Aldo Conterno Barolo Riserva Granbussia DOCG. Ah the beauty of traditionally made Barolo by a master. This remarkable Barolo is only made in years when the estates’ top three vineyards; Romirasco, Cicala and Colonnello produce grapes of outstanding quality. The blend usually contains 70% Romirasco, 15% Cicala and 15% Colonnello. The wine is fermented with the skins in large Slovonian oak for 2 months, and then aged in the cellar for at least 8 years before being bottled and released for sale. Like the Rinaldi, the wine was hitting on all cylinders. The fruit was gorgeous, balanced and focused. The nose tantalized the senses and the finish was one where you close your eyes and savor its beauty and length. $275. The Rare Wine Company.
The consensus of the group was that on this night the wines that showed the best were the Rinaldi and the Conterno. I look forward to revisiting them again in a couple of years. My guess is that the Monprivatos will put up quite a challenge.
We put ourselves in Chef Alan’s hands for the evening, requesting that he prepare a meal worthy of the wines. He performed beautifully, crafting a number of simple and delicious dishes that any Italian mother would have been proud of.
Chef Alan’s version of Bruschetta. My mom always made it this way. A thick slice of ripe tomato atop toasted French bread drizzled with olive oil, garlic, and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. She called it “loaves of bread”. Still a favorite of mine today.
Antipasto Misto – Prosciutto di Parma, sweet Soppressata, roasted peppers, grilled zucchini, fresh mozzarella
Costatina di Manzo – Braised Short Ribs, Baby Carrots, Red Wine Reduction
Chocoate Covered Perfiteroles
A great evening of food, wine and comraderie.