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.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

'Tis The Season…for White Truffles

This is the time of year that White Truffles from Alba, Italy make their appearance at many of the better restaurants in NYC and NJ.  According to Wikipedia a truffle is “the fruiting body of a subterranean Ascomycete fungus.”  Now I must admit that does not sound inviting or appetizing...at least not until you take one whiff of this most expensive culinary delight (about $175 an ounce this year).  The aroma is orgasmic, and when shaved atop the right foods, the dish is elevated to a whole new culinary level.   The right foods for me are fresh eggs, fresh pasta such as Tagliolini, Risotto, potatoes and soft polenta.

Every year, along with a friend or two, I head for lunch at Esca in NYC, as I did with Emil on Monday to indulge in a couple of my favorite preparations. We began with soft scrambled eggs with copious amounts of shaved truffles. Chef/co-owner David Pasternack (Mario Batali & Joe Bastianich are the other owners) is THE MASTER of this dish.  I spent the first minute just inhaling the aroma of the truffles before diving into this perfectly prepared dish.  Eggs with truffles are my favorite way of enjoying this sublime decadence.

For our main course, more truffles of course. This time we had them atop fresh, homemade Tagliolini pasta, sauced simply with a bit of butter and Parmigianno Reggiano cheese. Another brilliant combination and perfect example of the magnificence of a few fresh ingredients simply prepared to perfection.  

While many wines, such as Barolo, Barbaresco or White Burgundy would have paired beautifully with these dishes, we selected a bottle of 2009 Emidio Pepe Trebbiano from the Abruzzo region of Italy. This earthy white wine, made from the Trebbiano grape (Italy's most widely planted grape), thad a beautiful light orange hue, a delicate nose, excellent complexity with terrific focus, balance and earthiness on the palate and a long, seductive finish.  We decanted the bottle and it evolved beautifully throughout the lunch.  I suggest you decant this wine for an hour or two as it is still quite young.  It should provide enjoyment for a couple of decades to come.

A staunch traditionalist, Pepe, crushes the grapes in wooden tubs by foot in order to avoid the contact between the iron presses and the acids of the fruit.  The grapes are grown organically, hand-harvested, hand destemmed, naturally fermented and aged 18-24 months in glass-lined tanks. The wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered, without added SO2, and aged in their cellar, in bottle, for continued development. Before release, the wines are decanted by hand into new bottles, and then labeled.  $72.  Wine Searcher.



  1. Wonderful post, Mark! I can almost smell the truffle aroma. Thanks, Steve