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, January 7, 2012

A New and a Continuing Christmas Tradition

A number of years ago I began a tradition on Christmas day of inviting good friends over to my house for a lunch of Christmas Eve leftovers. Everyone would bring a great bottle of wine and we would enjoy the previous night's leftovers, sip the wine and have lively conversation. As much as I enjoyed this tradition, this year when my oldest daughter Gina informed us that she wanted to start a new tradition of having Carol and I over to her house for a Christmas breakfast and the exchange of gifts with the family we quickly accepted the start of this new tradition. My younger daughter Lisa, as has been her custom the past few years has us over to her house (they live next door to each other) for a simple Christmas dinner of macaroni with meatballs, etc. Thus it would seem that the tradition of Christmas Eve leftovers on Christmas day had come to an end. But being a somewhat resourceful guy and not one inclined to stop my “leftovers” tradition (after all what was I going to do with all that food), I moved “leftovers” lunch to December 26th. This year friends Gino, Louie, Cosmo, Emil, Tony and Jack showed up, each with a terrific bottle of wine and our tradition continued in grand style. In addition to my leftovers, Tony brought along his oven roasted wild sea bass that was moist and delicious. The wines were superb. We enjoyed:

2001 Patrick Lesec Puligny Montrachet Les Pucelles 1er Cru. This was a stunning Montrachet, beautifully balanced and pure on the palate. The oak was well integrated into the wine and it finished with elegance and length. Patric Lesec Selections is both a wine broker and negociant and offers a full range of top quality wines from the finest wine producing regions of France: Alsace, Burgundy, the northern and southern Rhône, Languedoc-Roussillon, Bordeaux and the Loire. Their wines are all estate bottled, and either produced directly by Patrick Lesec Selections or very carefully selected, after painstaking research, as excellent examples of their appellation. Jack who brought the wine has provided this information, which he in turn learned from Chris Cree at 56º Wine. “Patrick Lesec is a very successful negociant who deals mainly with wines from the Rhone. He also is a good friend of Michel Caillot of Domaine Caillot, who as it just so happens, has tremendous old vines in Les Pucelles. Patrick asked Michel to bottle some wine under his label and the rest is history. I acquired the wine as a library release directly from the cellar for $70 a bottle. This is the normally $120 per bottle Domaine Caillot Puligny Montrachet Les Pucelles 1er cru. Same exact wine. Unfortunately the wine is no longer available". What a shame.

2010 Testalonga Rossese Di Dolceaqua. This wine was new to all of us and none of us initially got excited about it. About a half bottle was left, so I put back the cork and put it in the refrigerator. A week later I noticed it, took it out and let it warm up a bit and poured myself a glass. Wow! Wow! Wow! The wine was amazing. It exhibited a gorgeous peppery palate that reminded me of the Poulsard grape from the Jura. It was clean and pure with a wonderful finish.

The wine comes from the hills of Dolceacqua in the far western corner of Liguria just before one crosses over into France and is made by Antonio Perrino whose estate is one of the legendary ones in the Dolceqcqua. Yields are very low and the wine is very limited. A Louis Dressner Selection (of course). At $35 a bottle the wine is an unbelievable bargain. I just ordered some from Chambers Street Wines, NYC.

2005 Cappellano Pie Rupertis Barolo. If you are a regular reader of this blog you know my feelings about Cappellano Barolos, they are just a beautiful and honest expression of old world Barolo displaying fabulous purity and elegance. This bottle was no exception and is drinking very well right now and will continue to do so for many more years to come. $75 at New York Wine Warehouse and Chambers Street Wines.

2007 Giuseppe Mascarello Monprivato. Another beautifully made old world Barolo from one of Barolo’s top producers. The wine's earthy bouquet soars from the glass, while the wine is wonderfully pure and elegant on the palate. Alas, as the wine is still in its youth the finish is lacking. A wine of enormous potential that needs at least another 5 to 10 years of cellar time. $100 a bottle at Wine Legend, Livingston and 56º Wine, Bearnardsville.

1985 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano D’Abruzzo. Poured from magnum and decanted for 3 hours. This is a great vintage for Pepe, however this bottle was not up to a bottle I had a few weeks before, which is surprising since it was from magnum. Don’t get me wrong the wine was very good but this bottle seemed to finish a bit short. $135 per 750ml at Wine Legend.

2002 Giuseppe Quintarelli Rosso di Bepi. Ah the master. Rosso di Bepi is only made in vintages when Giiuseppe feels that the grapes do not meet his strict standards to be labeled Amarone. Thus he declassifies the wine and calles it Rosso di Bepi. It is in fact his Amarone at ½ the price. This bottle drank superbly. Rich, balanced and pure on the palate, the wine of the day in my opinion. About $130 a bottle. De-Vino Wine Boutique, NY Wine Warehouse, Italian Wine Merchants.

2003 Le Salette Recioto Pergole Vece. While not a recioto in the class of Quintarelli, this is a reasonably priced Recioto that is drinking very nicely at the moment. It has a nice balance between sweet and dry and finishes softly and elegantly. $55. Wine Legend.

I would be remiss if I did not report on the new tradition. First and foremost we got to watch the excited expressions of our grandchildren as they opened their presents. For Christmas breakfast at Gina’s house Mimosa’s were the perfect accompaniment to scrambled eggs, pancakes, bacon and sausages that our son-in-law Nick prepared. Later at Lisa’s house we enjoyed fresh Pastosa Ravioli from Brooklyn along with Ziti with ricotta, meatballs, sausage and braciole. A bottle of 1997 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Monfortino Riserva was my choice here and it turned out to be a good one. Monfortino is Conterno’s top wine. First made in 1920, it is the epitome of old world Barolo and it is crafted to age for decades. I decanted the wine for 3 hours and it began to show its enormous potential in hour four. It exhibited a beautiful earthy bouquet and was pure and elegant on the palate. It would have benefited from a few more hours in the decanter. In my opinion this wine needs about another 5 years of cellar time.

Traditions with family, grandchildren, friends, great food and wine. What more can anyone ask for at Christmas time? We should all be thankful of friends and family.


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