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.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Better Late Then Never - Super Bowl XLVI

A bit late, but I would be remiss if I did not write about my annual Super Bowl party. It was once again a lot of fun and especially enjoyable to the Giant fans at the party. Unfortunately my Jets didn’t make it to the Super Bowl, but I was happy a local team won.

Like last year each person brings a dish, I pop open multiple bottles of wine and we have a great time. The menu was similar to last year with a couple new additions. Returning from last year were my Meatball Sliders,Gene’s Pulled Pork, Bill’s Cole Slaw, Tina’s remarkable Eggplant Caponata, Mixed Salad (this year prepared by Emil) and the delicious Italian Pastries from Vaniero’s Bakery in NYC, compliments of Peter & Amilia.

New to the table this year was Cosmo’s spectacular Vitello Tonnato and a terrific assortment of Italian sandwiches that Frank brought along from his son’s restaurant Frank Anthony’s, Verona, NJ.

As for the wines there was certainly no shortage. We stayed in Italy with the exception of one of the desert wines. To begin with we enjoyed a 2001 Ronchi di Cialla Ciallabianco from magnum. A blend of Ribolla Gialla, Verduzzo Friulano & Picolit, this crisp white is a joy to drink. It has good acidity and balance on the palate and a pure and clean finish and continues to evolve in the glass with each sip. $55 for a 750ml bottle at 56º Wine, Bearnardsville, NJ.

The other white opened, what else, my wife’s favorite a 2010 Ceretto Arneis Blanghe. This wine never disappoints. Widely available at about $20 a bottle.

We thought we would start the reds in grand style with two of Piedmonts most renowned wine makers, Bartolo Mascarello and Bruno Giacosa. We began with a 1997 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo. Readers of my blog know how much I love Mascarello’s wines. They are the epitome of old world Barolo. Alas this bottle was a bit of a disappointment. Decanted for 3+ hours, it had a lovely translucent brick red hue and an earthy bouquet in the glass. While there was a bit of oxidation upon opening, which blew off after an hour of decanting, the wine never really fully blossomed. It was flat and dull on the palate and not very enjoyable to drink. The wine seemed very tired. $120. De Vino Wine Boutique, NYC. NY Wine Warehouse, NYC.

Our bad streak continued with the 1997 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Rabaja that we opened next. If the Bartolo was tired, this one was exhausted. The fruit was completely gone and there was no finish at all. It was really undrinkable. It was a shame as I have never before been disappointed with a Giacosa wine. There is always a first time I guess.

We had better luck with the 1996 Eraldo Viberti Barolo. Viberti is a small Barolo producer from La Morra. His wines usually possess a nice elegance on the palate and are relatively inexpensive. This bottle had an earthy bouquet and was nicely balanced. However, it lacked depth and had a weak finish. I did not decant this bottle and I think that I paid a price for not doing so. $57 at De Vino Wine Boutique, NYC.

Next in our glasses was a modern style Barolo from Roberto Voerzio, his 1996 Barolo Brunate. A big Barolo that is dominated by French Oak (Barrique), which I felt masked the fruit quite a bit. The wine is aged in a combination of 1/3 new and 2/3 used French oak barriques for two years, and it is refined for one year in tank before being bottled. If you like California reds and Super Tuscans, you will love this wine. Not cheap. Expect to pay around $200 per bottle if you can find any.

The next wine, 2010 Testalonga Rossese Di Dolceacqua has become a favorite of mine. From Liguria, a coastal region that extends along the Mediterranean coast from Tuscany to the boarder of France, the wine is made from the Rossese grape. It has a gorgeous peppery palate that reminds me of the Poulsard grape from the Jura. Very clean on the palate it finishes with length and elegance. Antonio Perrino is the owner/winemaker and he is considered the best in this region. Production is very small. At about $35 a bottle it is a fantastic bargain. Chambers Street Wines, NYC.

Next up was a Barolo from Luciano Sandrone. The first bottle a 1996 Luciano Sandrone Cannubi Boschis was corked, so I opened a 1999 Cannubi Boschis. I have to say that Sandrone is my favorite modern style Italian winemaker. His wines are not dominated by oak. He only usese 10% new French Oak and uses the larger 500 liter French barrels. As a result I find his wines rounder and purer on the palate. This bottle had wonderful balance and complexity. It was delicious. $150 if you can find it.

We then moved to Tuscany and enjoyed an absolutely mind blowing 1998 Soldera Case Basse Brunello di Montalcino. You have heard me praise the Brunello of Giancfranco Soldera before and with good reason. His wines are so artfully crafted that they leap from the glass, throw a party on your tongue and warm your esophagus as they descend into your tummy. The 1998 normale (yes he also made a riserva in 98) is an amazing wine. I have had it on 4 occasions over the past 3 years and each time the wine was magnificent. Grapes The Wine Company recently had a special of this wine for $139, which is less than half of what you will pay now. The wine is worth every penny it will cost you to own some.

About 225 miles Southeast of Mantalcino is the town of Torano Nuovo in the Abruzzi region of Italy, home to another of Italy’s top traditional wine makers, Emidio Pepe. Emil was very generous and brought along a bottle of 1974 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo for us to enjoy, and did we ever. This was the epitome of an old world, terroir in your face bottle of wine. This is not a wine for everybody. It is pure barnyard earthiness on the nose and palate. As it sits in the glass it transforms and evolves with each sip. Made from 100% Montepulciano grapes, this bottle was just spectacular. $180 at Grapes The Wine Company, NY. BTW, the 2000 and 2001 vintages of this wine are drinking beautifully at the moment and are priced in the $60 range.

One of the few wine makers who can follow Soldera and Pepe is Giuseppe Quintarelli, thus we finished with a 2002 Giuseppe Quintarelli Rosso del Bepi and a 2002 Giuseppe Quintarelli Primofiore. As I have written about both of these wines in previous posts I will keep my comments short and sweet. Wow! Wow! Wow! Both drank with elegance and can be found at De Vino Wine Boutique, NYC and The Pluckemin Inn Wine Shop, Bedminster, NJ. $130 & $42 respectively.

However we were not quite finished yet. For the grand finale we opened two legendary dessert wines and drank them side-by-side. Gino brought along a 2002 Chateau d’Yquem and I opened a 1990 Quintarelli Bianco Amabile del Cere Bandito. Both wines were great, but for me the Amabile blew away the d’Yquem. The fruit of both wines soars on the palate, but the medicinal botrytis finish of d’Yquem comes in a distant second to the fruity, sweet, rich and intoxicating finish of the Amabile as far as I am concerned. The amber beauty on the left is the Amabile.
A perfect ending to a great day.


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