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.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Gentlemen’s Holiday Lunch - 2015

This past Thursday a bunch of wine-loving friends gathered at Il Capriccio Ristorante, Whippany, NJ for our annual holiday lunch.  Every one brings a bottle to drink as we enjoy Natale Grande’s excellent Northern Italian Cuisine.  This year Tony, who originally organized the event, decided that the theme would be Barolo or Barbaresco from 1978 to 2001.  I thought all the wines showed well.

Flight One

1985 Cavallotto Barolo Vigna San Giuseppe.  As this was my bottle, I gave it a 1-hour slo-o at home. The wine had a brickish and somewhat cloudy hue and a nice earthy nose that was reflected on the palate. The first couple of sips however showed very little as the wine was pretty much closed. As it sat in the glass (30 minutes) the fruit began to evolve nicely and the presence of an aged old world Barolo was evident. Tannins were soft and the finish had good length.

1989 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco. Upon opening the wine seemed to be a bit oxidized, which turned out not to be the case.  Within 15 minutes any hint of oxidation blew off and was replaced by good fruit and balance.  30 minutes later however the wine seemed to shut down.  ???

Flight Two

2000 Giacomo Conterno Monfortino Riserva Barolo.   Superb bottle of wine that is entering its drinking window.  Everything one expects of the estate’s flagship wine.  The wine was round and delicious with impeccable balance, focus, finesse and a lengthy and elegant finish.

2001 Giuseppe Rinaldi Brunate Barolo.   This bottle seemed a bit off.  Perhaps a storage or shipping issue.  In any case, in my opinion, it is way to young and needs at least another 5 years in the cellar.

Flight Three

2000 Aldo Conterno Barolo Granbussia.  Superb showing of this wine today.  Enticing bouquet with an intense, rich palate of ripe fruit that kept evolving with each sip.  Magnificent finish.

2001 Aldo Conterno Barolo Granbussia.  A couple steps behind the 2000 at this stage in its life, but a terrific wine for sure with a bright future. Lovely fruit, balance and complexity.  Would have definitely benefitted from a few hours in the decanter.

Flight Four

1988 Aldo Conterno Barolo Granbussia. Another superb wine.  Bright, elegant fruit that evolved with every sip and finished with lengthy elegance.

1996 Aldo Conterno Barolo Granbussia.  Even better than the 1988, which is saying something.  This is simply a round a delicious wine with a couple of decades of enjoyment ahead of it.  The wine hit 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 enjoy.  The essence of traditionally made old world Barolo.  My wine of the day.

Flight Five

2001 Aldo Conterno Barolo Cicala Magnum.  A wine of great pedigree and a bright future as it comes of age.  Enjoyable wine now, but will benefit from cellar time.

Flight Six

1997 Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo Brunate La Coste Magnum.  As a huge fan of Giuseppe Rinaldi, I was ready to be disappointed, as so many 1997 Barolos have proven to be.  There was no disappointment today, just a huge smile as I savored this delicious wine.  The magic of Rinaldi was present in each sip.  Gorgeous Piedmontese nose with vibrant fruit, complex palate and lengthy finish.  Old world Barolo at its best!.

Flight Seven

1996 Angelo Gaja Sori Tildin.  Not my kind of wine.  Fruit is over extracted.  Gaja all the way, and I am not a fan.

1981 Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Gran Reserva.  A most welcomed deviation from the theme.  LdH wines are the epitome of old world craftsmanship as this one was.  What a magnificent old world wine that possessed an earthy bouquet and gorgeous translucent hue reminiscent of a wine 30 years younger.  On the palate it had vibrant fruit, complexity, finesse and elegance.  A terrific wine.


1963 Sandeman Vintage Port.  From the legendary 1963 vintage, this was as good a vintage port as I have ever had.  Round, delicious and elegant with a monster finish.  I was amazed in that the color was more like that of a Tawny Port.  I only wish I had a couple of cases in my cellar.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all!


  1. really interesting to read the note on the 96 Aldo Conterno. Those wines were SO hyped when released (I'm sure you remember) but I've been disappointed tasting some of them over the years. Sounds great. Happy holidays!

  2. Jeremy, I've had the wine twice in the past year and both times it was very special. Happy Holidays to you and your lovely ladies.