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, March 14, 2012

Another Terrific Dinner at Nick & Caren’s House

I always look forward to being invited to dinner at the Cusano household. Nick is a great chef and along with his wife Caren they always provide for a great evening.

We began with an appetizer array that included incredibly fresh sun-dried tomatoes, Italian cured olives, artichoke hearts, fresh mozzarella and a prosciutto & mozzarella Panini made on Nick’s homemade French Baguette.

We washed these delights down with a 2005 Quintarelli Secco Ca del Merlo Bianco Veronese from magnum. The wine still shows amazing freshness. It is the only white wine made by Quintarelli. A blend of Garganega, Trebbiano, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Saorin it is always a joy to drink. The wine possessed a beautiful richness, pure fruit and a lengthy finish. About $40 for a 750ml bottle. DeVino Wine Boutique and NY Wine Warehouse, NYC.

I always look forward to the homemade pasta from Nick’s kitchen. It is one of his many specialties. Tonight we were treated to freshly made fettucine with a rabbit Bolognese sauce. I had this dish a few years ago in Luca, Italy and mentioned it to Nick. He could not resist making it. We were glad he did, as it was delizioso.

For those who do not enjoy the delights of coniglio, he made a traditional Bolognese sauce that also received rave reviews.

With the pasta we drank a 2004 Il Carnasciale Caberlot from magnum. This is very much a cult wine from Tuscany. I purchased a couple of magnums (the only way it is bottled) a few years ago and was not impressed with the initial bottle I opened. Fortunately, this bottle was a different story. I opened it 4 hours before pouring (no decanting) and it drank much better than the bottle of a couple of years ago. In the glass it had a dark purple hue as well as a bouquet reminiscent of a California Cabernet. While I found the fruit to be a bit over extracted ala the more modern style of many super Tuscan wines, it had a very nice peppery finish that made the wine enjoyable. The wine is made from a mysterious clone discovered four decades ago near Verona. Named “Caberlot,” the grape has characteristics of both Cabernet and Merlot—hence its name. Caberlot’s discoverer—agronomist Remigio Bordini— has allowed the vine to be planted just one place outside his nursery: at Wolf and Bettina Rogosky’s Tuscan estate, Il Carnasciale. I am told that only two enotecas (wine bars) in Italy get any. $280 per magnum at DeVino Wine Boutique.

After the pasta we enjoyed a terrific Fennel & Blood Orange Salad studded with black olives that was masterly prepared by Nick's brother-in-law, Adam. It was superb and set the palate for Nick's entrée of chicken with olives and cherry tomatoes in a white wine sauce. Moist and delicious he served this over grilled Polenta.

With this we opened a Jarvis 2006 Lake William Napa Valley Proprietary Red wine that is a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon and 36% Cabernet Franc. If you like big California wines this is a wine for you. Sporting 14.8% alcohol, it has an oaky palate with a pronounced vanilla finish. $100, but from what I understand, not easy to find.

For dessert we enjoyed Caren's homemade Tiramisu, espresso and a short glass of honey Grappa. The perfect end to a perfect evening.

Thanks again Nick & Caren



  1. Had a Mag of 2003 Caberlot last week....so far the best wine I've tried from that hot vintage in Italy spectacular

    1. I enjoyed the wine a lot, but did find it a bit too modern for my palate. Finish was superb.