Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Our monthly wine group met this past Monday at Sette Cucina Italiana in Bernardsville.  Sette has become one of our most frequented restaurants for our tastings.  In addition to the great food and service we love the fact that we can tell Chef/Owner Allan Russo what wines we will be drinking and he prepares a meal to compliment the wines.  He never fails to please and awe us as he did again on this visit.  As the title of this post suggests the wines and food were in glorious harmony.

The Food

Allan’s version of Bruschetta eschews the usual mix of chopped fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil and olive oil atop toasted bread.  Instead he places thick slices of fresh tomato atop sliced Italian Bread.  He then drizzles them with extra virgin olive oil, chopped garlic and grated Parmigianno Reggiano cheese.  He then bakes this in the oven for a brief time before topping with strands of fresh basil.  It is a very addictive dish and the perfect start to any meal.

An antipasto of fresh Burrata Cheese, Speck. Soprasatta, marinated Zucchini and Asparagus drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil followed.  Fresh ingredients, simply prepared are the hallmark of this dish.

As good as the first two plates were the Arugola Fritters that followed stole the show.  Here he batters fresh Arugola, gently fries each fritter in extra-virgin olive oil and tops each with Bagna Cauda, a Piedmontese sauce similar to a fondue.   It is made with garlic, anchovies, oil and butter.  A light sprinkling to toasted bread crumbs completes the dish.  Fantastic mélange of textures and flavors.  I would have been happy with this as a main course.

Our pasta course, Pasta alla Norma, is regarded as one of Sicily’s most popular dishes. Small quills of Penne pasta are tossed with a savory fresh tomato sauce and fried eggplant and topped with shaved Parmigianno Reggiano cheese.  Allan’s preparation is as good as I have had in Sicily.

As full as I was, I made the necessary effort to partake of the oven roasted Porchetta stuffed with Pancetta, Juniper Berries and Parmigianno Cheese.  The silky pork sauce, which I assume was made from the pan drippings, added depth and precision to the plate.

Homemade Profiteroles drizzled with Chocolate Sauce completed another magnificent meal.

The Wines

It was Howard’s turn to select and bring the wines and he did a great job bringing along aged Burgundies from five different villages that Jeff (our Burgundy expert) noted, “were true to their terroir”. 

1996 Louis Jadot Vosne Romanee Les Suchots 1er Cru. Located in Beaune, Maison Louis Jadot has been making excellent expressions of classic red and white Burgundy since 1859. Vosne Romanée is situated just to the north of Nuits-Saint-Georges and produces the region’s most celebrated wines. The A.C. of Vosne Romanée has an average vineyard size of 105 ha (13 in Flagey Echezeaux). There are 14 Premiers Crus and 7 Grands Crus, including Romanée-Conti and La Tache to name a couple.

"Les Suchots" consists of two continuous parcels between Romanée St Vivant and Richebourg on the South side, and "Les Echezeaux" on the North side.  This wine is fermented in vats for 3-4 weeks and aged 15 months in oak barrels before bottling.

I was at first surprised at how youthful this was.  It had a wonderful earthy bouquet with great texture and balanced fruit on the palate.  An outstanding negociant wine that will has plenty of time ahead of it.  $100. Wine Searcher.

1996 Meo-Camuzet Nuits St Georges les Boudots 1er Cru.  The estate as has been producing wine under its own label since 1985.  Today it is under the direction of Jean-Nicholas Meo.  The legendary Henri Jayer spent 40 years farming parcels from Meo-Camuzet under his own label.  For three years, he mentored Jean-Nicolas during the transition of the winery to Meo before retiring in 1988.  Jayer’s wines are amongst the most expensive (thousands of dollars a bottle) and sought after wines in the world.  While I have never had a Jayer wine, and at these prices never will, I have had Meo-Camuzet before.  I find the wines to be a bit on the modern side, probably reflective the large amount of new oak used in making the wines.  I thought that tonight’s bottle was completely closed down or past its prime.  There was very little fruit, depth or complexity on the palate in my opinion.  While others did not necessarily agree, a few felt that after their initial sip the wine seemed to shut down.  As far as I am concerned it is not worth the $400 price tag this will cost you.  Wine-Searcher.

1991 Faiveley Mazis Chambertin Grand Cru.  The wines of Domaine Faiveley are widely recognized for being among the finest produced in Burgundy and Domaine Faiveley among the finest wine producers in the world.  Tonight’s wine, my favorite of the evening, underscored these claims.  A completely round and delicious wine with vibrant fruit, depth, focus, finesse and balance.  The great acidity of the wine will ensure that this wine will drink well for decades.  Truly a wine with soul!  $350.  Wine-Searcher.

1988 Marquis d’Angerville Volnay Champans 1er Cru. To quote The Rare Wine Company, “Nothing demonstrates red Burgundy’s magic like great Volnay, with its enveloping aromatic complexity, silky texture and tremendous aging potential. And for a half century, the name “Jacques d’Angerville” was synonomous with the greatest Volnays”.   Jacques, who passed away in 2003, was, according to Allen Meadows, “minimalist in the extreme.”  He told Meadows, “I want to do as little as possible to the wine. I want low yields and no signature.” Relying on great sites and old vines of a unique clone, "Pinot d’Angerville", he proved that great wines are made in the vineyard, not in the cellar.

After complete de-stemming, fermentation lasts for 10 to 12 days, with a 12 to 18-month élévage in largely used barrels.  To extract fine tannins, the cap is kept moist by twice-daily pump overs. Such methods not only bring out the crus’ inherent nobility; they create wines of perfect balance and great aging ability.

Tonight’s wine substantiated the above comments.  What a lovely wine.  It possessed a classic Burgundian earthy bouquet, while on the palate the fruit was very much in tact and the mid-palate showed nice depth and focus.  The finish was long and elegant.  In a nutshell, it drank beautifully.  This was my second favorite wine of the night.  This vintage appears to be long gone in the U.S., but current vintages will cost about $140.

1985 Domaine de Courcel Pommard 1er Cru Grand Clos des Epenots.  A new producer for me.  The wine displayed a medium-bodied and soft palate. While it did improve a bit as it sat in the glass I felt it lacked the complexity and depth of the previous wines.  Current vintages will run about $150.

It was another magical evening thanks to Howard's great selection and Allan's food.  Life is good...very good!


1 comment:

  1. last year got to taste the current release from d'Angerville... what extraordinary wines #envy