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, May 15, 2013

Aged Italian

Our wine group met for our monthly dinner in April at La Pergola Ristorante in Millburn, NJ.  I wrote about this terrific spot in my post, Friends, Food & Wine a few weeks back.  Howard was up and he chose Italian reds with considerable age as this dinner’s theme.  He brought along a diverse and impressive selection for us to taste. Owner Agron Kaloshi, who hails from Albania, oversaw the decanting of the wines for our meal, while his wife Driola, who hails from Sienna, oversaw our food.

Our appetizers consisted of an enormous, moist and delicious Stuffed Artichoke, Arugula and Pear Salad, Homemade Fettucine with Rabbit Ragu, and Homemade Papparadelle with Wild Mushrooms, Fresh Spinach and Heirloom Tomatoes in a Creamy Sauce.
Stuffed Artichoke
The homemade pastas are made in-house by Driola. All pastas, homemade and dried, are a strong suit at La Pergola.  Every pasta I have had to date has been perfectly cooked and properly sauced allowing you to get the essence of the noodle which is complimented, as opposed to being overpowered, by the sauce.

With the appetizers we sipped a 1971 Giacomo Borgogno & Figli Barolo Classico Riserva ($175, Grapes, The Wine Company).  Over the years I have found wines from this producer to be very inconsistent and lacking the true expression of the Nebbiolo grape.  Alas this was the occasion again tonight as the wine had no life at all.  (Things seem to be changing with the new ownership of this winery as I wrote about in my previous post).  We fared much better with 1971 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco.  This is the consortium’s basic Barbaresco and it is always superb as was this bottle.  The wine's age showed in its brownish brick-red hue, but it still had considerable vitality and drank with focus and complexity.  $195, The Rare Wine Company.

Entrées were up next and consisted of a marvelous Lasagna Bolognese, Homemade Papparadelle with Broccoli Rabe and Hot & Sweet Sausage, Grouper Francaise over Linguine, Fegato (calves liver) alla Veniziana and Rack of Lamb.  Each dish was prepared with a skillful hand and went superbly with the entrée wines, the first of which was a 1978 Gaja Barbaresco, which unfortunately was corked. Howard, however, was prepared and his back-up bottle of 1995 Giuseppe E Figlio Mascarello Barolo Monprivato more than made up for the Gaja.  This wine was magnificent.  Here was the essence of the elegance and finesse of the Nebbiolo grape.  Round and delicious, this is a wine with soul.  $150 and also available at The Rare Wine Company.
Grouper Francaise

1990 Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia followed the Mascarello. 1990 was a magical vintage in Piedmonte, producing gorgeous and age worthy wines such as this effort from Conterno. While this bottling consists of the grapes that don’t make it into their top bottling, Granbussia Riserva, this was fresh, clean, complex and elegant.  I do not feel however that it is worth the $250+ price tag that goes with the wine.  If you are interested, again it can be found at The Rare Wine Company

The final wine of the evening was one of my favorites, 1979 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d'Abruzzo.
Papparadelle w/ wild mushrooms & spinach
 This incredible old world winemaker produces wines that are homage to mother nature. They are very earthy in style and do not appeal to everyone.  Everything is done by hand and with meticulous care. The wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered, without added SO2, and aged in their cellar, in bottle, for continued development. Before release, the wines are decanted by hand into new bottles, and then labeled.  This bottle soared from the glass and got better with each sip.  For me, and I believe the consensus of the group also, the wine of the evening.  $200 at Grapes, The Wine Company.

Thank you Howard, Jeff, Agron & Driola for a most enjoyable evening of wine and food.


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