After a one-year hiatus, a group of wine loving friends gathered once again on a Friday afternoon for a holiday lunch at Il Capriccio Ristorante in Whippany, NJ. Recently renovated, we dined and imbibed in the restaurant's Wine Cellar private Dinning Room. This event was started by Tony Prioletti a number of years ago to the delight of all that attend. Each attendee brings one or two bottles of wine that conform to the wine theme set by Tony. The theme this year was French wines from the Northern Rhone, Southern Rhone and Burgundy regions of France. All three regions boast iconic producers of great wines, a number of which we drank today.
Once again the food prepared by Tony Grande and his son Natale was topflight as was the food and wine service under the direction of Maitre'd/Wine Director Salvatore Le Rose.
2010 Vasart-Coquart & Fils Champagne (not pictured). I arrived too late and did not taste this wine.
1989 J.L. Chave Hermitage. I was also too late for this wine. 3 of the attendees had it as their WOTD.
2007 J.L. Chave Hermitage Blanc. My runner up for WOTD. The wine showed Incredible depth, balance and complexity with a lingering and delicious finish.
2001 E. Guigal Côte Rôtie La Mouline. A terrific Syrah but still on the young side. I think that had I opened this bottle a few hours before getting to the restaurant, the underlying pedigree of the wine would have blossomed.
2008 Ponsot Morey St.-Denis Cuvée de Alouettes. A very good bottle of wine with great pedigree and potential with more cellar time.
1995 Ponsot Clos de la Roche Vieilles Vignes. I found the fruit to be very much alive, but it lacked depth and finesse. I preferred the 2008 to this bottle.
2007 Mommessin Clos de Tart. We had two bottles of this from two different cellars. I found no appreciable difference between the bottles. The wine was still quite young but very enjoyable. Dark, ruby color with enticing bouquet.
2006 Chȃteau Rayas Chateauneuf du Pape Réservé. Clearly my WOTD, an opinion echoed by two others in the group. This was simply an awesome wine that was round and delicious and evolved with each sip. Truly a wine with soul!
2006 Henri Bonneau Chateauneuf du Pape Réservé de Celestins. Very similar to the Rayas, but with a shorter finish. In my opinion this will benefit from a few more years in the cellar. My second runner up to WOTD.
2000 Vega-Sicilia Único. I used to be a big fan of this producer when he made traditional wines. The 1970 Unico is one of the best wines I ever had. Unfortunately, the winery changed to a much more modern style a number of years ago and I stopped buying them. Today’s wine was exactly that, way too modern. It was like drinking liquid wood.
2011 Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes 375ml. Not my favorite dessert wine as I find the finish to be too medicinal. This bottle was also much too young to drink.
25-Year-Old Glen Moray Speyside Single Malt Scotch. Terrific single malt scotch with a wonderfully smooth palate.
Christmas Eve began with Carol and I attending the Christmas Choir and Christmas Mass at Holy Family Church that our granddaughters, Mia and Isabella, participate in each year. I have never been able to attend this in the past as I had to stay home and organize the food preparation and service help for the evening meal. This year our usual hired help was unavailable, and my wife’s troublesome knee prompted us take the family out for dinner. This enabled me to attend the Mass and I was happy I did. The choir was magnificent and really set the mood for our Christmas celebration.
Before heading off to the restaurant we gathered after mass at our house for light pickings, Champagne and cocktails.
2007 Kripta Agustí Torelló Mata Cava Kripta Brut Nature Gran Reserva.
Brought by my good friend Gino this amazing sparkler is a blend of Macabeo,Xarello and Parellada grapes. It is considered by many to be Spain’s greatest sparkling wine. A little research provided the following: "1979 in the cellar of Can Rossell KIPTA is born. After 32 years of experience Agusti Torello Mata decides to realize his illusion. KRIPTA comes from the best old vineyards of Penedés, an exceptional blending of the best plots of Macabeo, Xarel·lo and Parellada. A long aging with a cork stopper of at least 5 years, they get a unique bouquet that consolidates it as one of the great wines of the world. The bottle, reminiscences of Roman amphora, and the label-work of the artist Rafael Bartolozzi- are the touch of final elegance of this great wine cellar".
This was a full-bodied Cava with wonderful depth and an underlying citric palate. It finished with with terrific length.
2007 Philipponnat Brut Royale Reserve Non-Dosé Champagne (Disgorged September 2011).
I purchased a few bottles of this amazing Champagne from The Rare Wine Company a number of years ago. I recored these comments, which I believe are from their web site. "When a bottle of Champagne receives its final cork, a little sugar ("dosage") is usually added to the wine. Brut Champagnes can legally have up to 12 grams per liter added. But that much sugar typically means lower quality, as the producer may be hiding imperfections in the wine. In contrast, the dosage of an elite, flawless Champagne typically ranges from 4 to 7 grams. But few Champagnes are released into the world with no dosage at all; most producers like the rounding effect that sugar has on even the best Champagnes. To succeed with absolutely no dosage requires a Champagne of unusual richness and roundness on the palate.
Philipponnat's Non-Dosé is such a Champagne. It was introduced in 2009 to great critical acclaim. And of all the reviewers who've praised it, we find the comments of Peter Liem (whose Champagneguide.net we highly recommend) particularly incisive:
"In the absence of dosage, the pinot fruit is strongly emphasized ... and it's the dark, virile fruit tones of the black grapes that dominate here, whereas in (Philipponnat's flagship Brut Royale Réserve) the chardonnay somehow makes its presence more clearly felt. This is impressive, showing a harmonious balance from beginning to end ..."
It is hard to believe that this only costs around $40. It's yeasty bouquet and palate brings a lingering smile to those that sip it.
I was able to secure the private wine cellar dining room at LuNello’s Ristorante in Cedar grove for our dinner. Chef/owner Lou Segar and his staff did a magnificent job with the accommodations, service and food.
1996 Giuseppe Mascarello Barolo Riserva Monprivato Ca’ d’Morisso, Magnum. 3 hour slo-o. Awesome wine. Round and delicious with great balance, depth, finesse and a monster finish.
2004 Soldera Case Basse Brunello di Montalcino Riserva. Pnp. I first tasted this wine from barrel when I visited Soldera in 2008. The wine blew us away then and it did again tonight. A sensational bottle of wine that has aged to perfection. Elegance in the glass. The wine soared with each sip and finished with great length. It edged out the ‘96 Ca’d’Morisso as WOTN.
2002 Domaine Castagnier Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru. Pnp. Excellent Burgundy from a producer I was not familier with. Classic Burgundian nose and palate. On another night could have been in the running for WOTN, but not tonight.
1995 Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes. 3-hour slo-o. Gorgeous amber hue. Palate of pure nectar, if only the finish was not so medicinal.
We begin Christmas day with a terrific breakfast of scrambled eggs, pancakes, bacon and biscuits at our oldest daughter Gina's house, followed by opening presents with our adorable grandchildren. We completed our Christmas celebration at our youngest daughter's house for dinner at night. Lisa and Andy do a great job with a meal featuring steak and potatoes.
1990 Paul Jaboulet Ainé Hermitage La Chapelle. It has been a long time since I had a bottle of this legendary wine. The wine displayed amazing youth with beautiful balance and elegance on the palate. The wine evolved with each sip and finished with great length.
2007 Armand Rousseau Chambertin Grand Cru. 3 hour in decanter. Classic Burgundy. A pure and elegant wine with terrific complexity, finesse and a lengthy and elegant finish. At the beginning of what should be a long and enjoyable drinking window. My WOTN.
2006 Rattalino Barbaresco Quarantatre 43. Pnp. Fermented in stainless steel tanks, this is an under the radar producer of traditionally made Barolo and Barbaresco that is always a delight to drink. 2006 was a great vintage in Barbaresco as was clearly evident in this wine.
1991 Quinta Do Noval Vintage Port. A good, not great bottle of port that is approaching the end of its time.