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, January 13, 2016

Armonia Italiano

Last night our monthly wine group returned to Sette Cucina Italiana in Bernardsville. Chef/Owner Allan Russo never fails to prepare a meal that is in harmony, in this case Armonia Italiano, with the wines.  The wine selection fell on the shoulders of Marc last night, who flexed them admirably with a memorable selection of older Nebbiolos.

The Food

We began the evening as we did when we visited in October with Allan’s version of Bruschetta; Antipasto of fresh Burrata Cheese, Speck. Soprasatta, marinated Zucchini and Asparagus drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil; and Arugola Fritters topped with Bagna Cauda.

Our pasta course this time was Risotto with sweet Italian Sausage that transported us back to Italy.  Risotto needs to be creamy to be fully appreciated as this was tonight.  It was a dish in which all the ingredients and textures came together in perfect harmony.  It was nothing short of culinary bliss.  In fact, it was so good that I asked to have it repeated as my entrée.

While I was enjoying every grain of my risotto, my fellow wine lovers were savoring every morsel of Brised Short Ribs served in a lush red wine reduction

Millefoglie, Italy’s answer to the French Napoleon, completed the meal.  Light as a feather, yet decadent as any great dessert, it quickly disappeared from our collective plates.

If you are a reader of this blog and live in NJ and have not been to Sette, I suggest you plan a visit soon.  You will be glad you did.

The Wines

All the wines were opened about 4 hours prior to serving.

We began the evening with two Baroli side-by-side from the 1967 vintage, a fantastic vintage in Piedmont.  1967 Prunotto Barolo & 1967 Francesco Rinaldi Barolo.  I was surprised and amazed by the gorgeous translucent red hue of the Prunoto.  Color like this is rare in a 38 year old wine.  On the nose it had a big earthy bouquet with a soft and balanced palate.  With each sip the wine evolved a bit more and finished with elegance.  It was delicious. Unavailable at retail.

The Rinaldi took a back seat to the Prunotto.  In a striking contrast to the Prunotto, the Rinaldi possessed an inky and opaque hue.  On the nose the bouquet had more red fruit, but less earth than the Prunotto.  The palate echoed the fruity bouquet.  That and the deep color caused Jeff to comment that "some Barbera may have been added to the wine", a technique often used by Angelo Gaja to enhance the color.  While a pleasant wine, it was simply outclassed by the Rinaldi.  Unavailable at retail.

     Prunotto                    Rinaldi

1985 Vietti Barbaresco Masseria.  Like 1967, 1985 was a great vintage in Piedmont and according to Antonio Galloni, “…this remains a reference point vintage for the 1980’s second half to the last century.”  I became a fan of this producer a couple of years back when I first tasted his Barolo Castiglione, a traditional Barolo loaded with soul.  This was my first taste of their Barbaresco and it likely will not be my last.  The wine was glorious.  The wine soared from the glass enticing the nose with an intoxicating bouquet of fruit and the soil that produced it.  I loved the fruity and harmonious palate that showed great balance and complexity before finishing with length and elegance. Has the stuff to last another 20 years. Unavailable at retail.  

1985 Paolo Scavino Cannubi Barolo. I have never been a fan of Paolo Scavino wines as I find them too modern for my palate.  Tonight’s wine I believe was made prior to his change over to the more modern style, and as such was quite nice.  It didn’t show the presence of oak that his modern wines display, but, in my opinion, lacked the depth and finesse of the others we drank. It was my least favorite of the evening.  $200.  Wine-Searcher.

1998 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Falletto.  What a beautiful bottle of wine.  Intoxicating bouquet of earth and fruit with a polished and complex palate.  The wine soared from the glass and evolved with each sip before finishing with a sublime elegance.  Many years of drinking pleasure remain here if you are lucky enough to have some.  This and the Vietti were my wines of the night, with the Prunotto a short step behind.  The estate seemed to have a set back after Bruno had a stroke a few years back, but once again seems to be getting back on track with the return of winemaker Dante Scaglione.  $180.  Wine-Searcher.

Just another magical evening with this great group of guys.  Very well done Marc!