3 Italians, 1 American … 3 Asians, 1 Cuban

29 March 2012, L’artusi, West Village

In a last minute decision to go out for dinner on a Thursday night, I was in the mood for Italian – food and wine both. Nard, Pedro, Manoj and I got a table at L’artusi and I decided to bring two bottles and potentially supplement with anything that looked interesting on the wine menu.

As soon as we sat down, Joe Campanale (the beverage director and co-owner) walked over and we started chatting about the wines we brought and a few that he’d been drinking recently. The first wine went with our appetizer course of crudo scallops – a 2010 Terre di Trente Carricante Bianco from Sicily:

2010 Terre di Trente Carricante Bianco

Fermentation occurs in stainless steel and ages for about half a year in the bottle. With only  1,000 bottles produced annually, this is not an easy wine to find – I had to email the producer who put me in touch with the importer who eventually put me in touch with a retailer in New York. A completely organic wine that is hand harvested in the volcanic soil of Mount Etna, the fruity nose leads to an ashy attack, citrus and strong acid on the palate with a spicy finish. Delicious.

With our next course of roasted mushrooms and pancetta, we tried a new wine to all of us, an organic wine from Sardegna, a 2006 Dettori Tuderi Badde Nigolosu:

2006 Dettori Tuderi Badde Nigolosu

Extremely aromatic and slightly sweet with red cherries on the palate backed up by good acidity and medium tannins. Made from the Cannonau varietal, it reminded me of the Cornelissen Contadino I’ve tried from Sicily but with more structure.

For our pasta course, which included an orecchiette, bucatini, ravioli and black fettucini, we went with an old favorite, a 2004 Caymus Cabernet Special Selection:

2004 Caymus Cabernet Special Selection

A stereotypical old-school Cali Cab, the first thing that strikes you is the deep, inky, purple  color in the glass. A fruit bomb with an intense aroma of ripe black cherries and finish of licorice. The wine is incredibly smooth with mild tannins but paired decently with the food. Although the wine will probably be good to drink for at least the next 5-10 years, I don’t expect it to develop any more complexity or nuance.

Finally, for dessert, we had an incredible Picolit from Friuli, the 1998 Ronchi di Cialla Picolit:

1998 Ronchi di Cialla Picolit (500ml)

Picolit is produced in tiny amounts via the passito style where they dry the grapes to develop higher concentration in sugar to develop a sweet wine. Less thick and sugary than Sauternes, I love Picolit for the freshness, fruit and light-body sweetness that leads to a balance you typically don’t find in dessert wines.

** 2010 Terre di Trente Carricante Bianco, $35

** 2006 Dettori Tuderi Badde Nigolosu, $35

** 2004 Caymus Cabernet Special Selection, $150

*** 1998 Ronchi di Cialla Picolit (500ml), $112

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Dinner, Wine and Friends

7 January 2012, 100 Jane Street, Manhattan

Recently, Nard, Clair, Diane and I cooked dinner and invited Dan, Sul and Manoj. Food and wine pairings below:

the five wines of the night

1. 2004 Agrapart & Fils Champagne Blancs de Blanc Brut

My first Blanc de Blanc and it was delicious. Agrapart is made from 50 year old vines in Les Robarts and La Voie d’Epernay. The winery uses organic farming and fermentation with natural yeasts. The champagne explodes in your mouth and felt cleaner to me than regular champagnes. Minerality with good acidity and a light but lasting finish.

2. 2009 Kistler Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – roasted beet salad with arugula, shaved parmesan with an olive oil and lemon dressing

My first Pinot Noir from Kistler (I’ve had several of their Chardonnays) and it was probably the best California Pinot Noir I’ve ever had. The wines are fermented with native yeasts, aged in French Oak for 14-18 months and finally bottled unfiltered and unfined. Strawberry, red fruit and surprising earthiness with a medium body. The wine had a complexity that changed on your palate and was great with the salad. This was the group’s wine of the night.

3. 2007 i Clivi Brazan Collio Goriziano – fettucini with a mushroom and onion cream sauce

I Clivi is a vineyard in Friuli that focuses on non-interventionist wine-making using organic methods. A small producer, they make about 1,500 cases of their DOC whites which are blends of Tocai, Verduzzo and Malvasia. The soil composition is a mixture of limestone, clay and sandstone with yields of about 1.0 ton per acre. The wine is fermented with its own yeast, undergoes malolactic fermentation and matures in stainless steel tanks on its own lees for 2 years with no racking or filtration. No oaking or wood of any kind is used to fully express the purity of the grapes.

The wine tastes the way it was made – clean, non-interventionist with subtle hints of stoned fruit. Medium acidity and clean, but short finish. Had enough acidity to keep up with the pasta but not the best pairing as the weight of the pasta overwhelmed this simpler wine.

4. 2001 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Asili – prime rib rubbed with garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil

I’ve written about Giacosa’s wines before and this was incredible as expected. Upon opening the bottle, it was extremely acidic and fruity with exploding tannins. After a 7 hour decant, the wine was showing in a much more integrated way: a strong nose of spice, Giacosa earthiness and tar. The palate had hints of sweet, ripe red fruit with spice and mustiness. Perfect wine for a red meat roast and still has a lot of years left to develop in the cellar.

5. 1990 Chateau d’Yquem – poached pears in a red wine sauce and brownies with French Vanilla Breyer’s ice cream

The most incredible wine that I think currently made is Chateau d’Yquem. This bottle was courtesy of Dan and it did not disappoint. Exceptional elegance with sweetness, acidity and good body. It has an incredible texture of honey and peach with perfect acidity to balance the wine. The perfect wine:

1990 Chateau d'Yquem

*** 2004 Agrapart & Fils Champagne Blancs de Blanc Brut, $80

*** 2009 Kistler Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast, $75

** 2007 i Clivi Brazan Collio Goriziano, $25

*** 2001 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Asili, $130

**** 1990 Chateau d’Yquem