Barbaresco

7 January 2015 – New York Vintners, Tribeca

I recently attended a tasting at NY Vintners with some board members from the Vinous website.  We tasted through 3 flights of Barbaresco and while I took notes, it paled in comparison to the cataloging others were doing so I’ll let them explain and put my thoughts below:

Making the Case – for Barbaresco

My response on the vinous site to the posting:

Great time as always and thanks to everyone who came and contributed their wines and thoughts.  Incredible notes and photos as always Eric.

My general impressions across the flights were fairly in line with prior comments.  I wasn’t all that impressed by the ’85 flight – unlike a few experiences I’ve had with ’85 Barolos, I felt that these Barbarescos were at best ghosts of what they were earlier in their lives and barely holding on to their fruit.  As a whole they felt thin – maybe chalk that up to how the bottles were stored or differences across producers but while they were intellectually interesting, I found them lacking.

The second flight was a stunner for me – I scored every wine 94 or higher and found the ’98 Asili (95 points) and the ’98 SSR (97+ points) as the standouts.  Both are still huge wines with long finishes and incredible structure.  Both will get better.

The third flight to me was dominated by the ’01 Rabaja Riserva – one of the best Barbarescos I’ve ever tasted and I gave it 99+ points.  Powerful dark, ripe fruit with cedar wood/cigar box and subtle flavor changes throughout each sip.  Other than the Pora that was corked, the other wines showed well and I found the ’01 Asili (96 points )to be a step ahead of the others.

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Christmas Dinners

It was a busy and eventful year so we had a lot of things to celebrate this year and some incredible wines to match.

21 December 2014, Gotham Bar & Grill, Manhattan

One year earlier, I had proposed to Diane and we went to dinner at Gotham Bar & Grill to celebrate.  A year later, I surprised her by having her parents and my brother join us.  In addition to a superb seasonal menu, we had:

N.V. Jacques Selosse Champagne Blanc de Noirs La Côte Faron

N.V. Jacques Selosse Champagne Blanc de Noirs La Côte Faron

The same wine we had in Piedmont at La Ciau del Tornavento – it remains my favorite Champagne I’ve ever tasted.  His solera-style Pinot Noir based wine is utterly profound with huge textural depth and richness.  It develops over time in the glass as the Champagne warms up to room temperature.  Floral and fruity armoas overlay the biscuity/brioche flavors of the wine.  98 points

Our white for the evening was from one of our favorite producers in Burgundy:

2011 Domaine Roulot Meursault Meix Chavaux

2011 Domaine Roulot Meursault Meix Chavaux

Still very young and tense with a piercing acidity that made me think of Chablis initially.  Mainly lemon and citrus at this point as I believe this is still too young to hit its proper stride but still a good wine.  90 points

We finished the meal with the wine that was a turning point for both Diane and I:

1985 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Villero

1985 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Villero

We tasted this wine for the first time 4 years ago and it was the first “wow” wine we shared together.  It immediately made Giacosa one of our favorite producers and Barolo one of our favorite regions to this day.  This wine was in top form with the perfect combination of sweet candied fruits with the complexity of leather, cigar box and damp earth that age adds to Barolos.  Don’t think this improves much more although I think it will continue to hold on for another 5 years at least.  96 points

24 December 2014, 222 Park Ave. South, Manhattan

We were fortunate enough to share Christmas Eve with Anthony, Jennifer, Jennifer’s mom and Nicolas at their apartment.  An incredible meal of smoked salmon (from Scotland!) and rack of lamb with potatoes was delicious as always.  As is becoming a bit of a tradition this holiday season, we started with our favorite Blanc de Blancs:

2004 Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs

2004 Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs

The tasting notes from our visit to the winery are still relevant here.  An incredibly complex wine that’s still an infant but shows freshness as a result.  96 points

For the smoked salmon, we moved on to a Champagne with more Pinot in the blend:

2004 Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame

2004 Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame

Again, the tasting notes from the Chateau visit are relevant here although as we spent more time with this wine during the meal, I felt the wine started to open up more, possibly hinting at its potential down the road.  White stone fruit and more textural depth than the Ruinart.  93+ points

The piece de resistance of the night was the red Anthony opened for us – the best Bordeaux experience I’ve ever had:

1983 Chateau Palmer

1983 Chateau Palmer

You can taste the large portion of Merlot with the great body.  It still has huge structure as you’d expect from Palmer but in this instance with the tannins balanced and smooth and the entire palate in perfect harmony.  I’m not sure if Bordeaux can get better than this … but in case it can: 99 points

25 December 2014, 100 Jane Street, Manhattan

Our Christmas dinner was spread out over a few hours as we moved from cured meats and cheeses to the various courses of the meal.  The highlight of the food was a 4 oz white truffle which we paired with several courses but the wines made it special.

With our cured meats and cheeses, we had:

  1. N.V. Veuve Clicquot (Yellow Label) – a great entry level wine that’s simpler than its vintage brethren.  Good acidity and citrus fruit with just minor hints of bread.  A good aperitif.  89 points
  2. 2004 Veuve Cliqcuot La Grande Dame (see note above) – showed just as well one day later. 93+ points

For our first course, we had baked eggs with white truffles.  I wanted a lighter but medium bodied white to pair with the truffles here so we went with a 2010 Emidio Pepe Pecorino.  This was my first experience with a Pepe white and I wasn’t a huge fan of the fairly oxidative style although the pairing was decent.  Golden yellow color with some honeysuckle and peach on the palate.  Too much air for a 2010 in my opinion.  Curious to see how this changes in bottle although I’m not sure it’s going to get matierally better.  88 points

For our pasta course, we had the simple tajarin with white truffles, paired with a wine Nard brought, the 1996 Eraldo Viberti Barolo.  Drinking perfectly now from a strong vintage, the Viberti has everyone you want in a Barolo of this age, it just is lacking the extra “it” factor to make it an exceptional wine and I think it’s at the peak of its drinking window at this point.  90 points.

The main course featured a roasted pork shoulder, green beans with almonds and Diane’s famous mashed potatoes.  This paired with a second bottle Nard brought, the 2003 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo that was drinking exceptionally well for an off vintage.  Great complexity on the palate and a lingering finish – I’m not sure this gets better but it might so I’m going to wait before trying another one. 92+ points

The Christmas Lineup

The Christmas Lineup

We’re going to have to open some serious wines on New Year’s Eve to top this …

Christmas

14 December 2012, 100 Jane Street, West Village

With a newly decorated Christmas tree in our apartment, Diane and I decided to have some friends over for the holidays to celebrate. Nicole, Elliott, Pedro, Christina, and Manoj came over for appetizers and wine:

The Lineup

The Lineup

The food during the night was (in no particular order):

  • Cured meats and cheeses – my favorite cured meat in the world is the Jamon Iberico from Spain. Nearly impossible to find in the US, Murray’s Cheese typically carries some and is where I usually load up. Our favorite cheeses including the clothbound Cabot cheddar and aged manchego also made an appearance.
  • Mini cheese-burgers and portobello-mushroom-burgers – the beef was from our local butcher, Florence Meat market with minimal seasoning and American cheese. The mushrooms were marinated in a balsamic vinegar sauce. Both cooked in the oven broiler.
  • A few assorted desserts  – cookies and ice cream

I spent a fair amount of time planning the progression of wines and thought it worked out fairly well:

  1. *** NV Billecart-Salmon Champagne Brut Rose – my go-to rose Champagne. Reasonably priced and delicious with food or as an aperitif. Floral and fruity with a lighter body, I like drinking it out of a white wine glass to allow the bubbles to dissipate and wine to warm a bit. It gives me a better sense of the aromatics and freshness. $80
  2. ** 2010 Copain Chardonnay Tous Ensemble – as I mentioned before, the best value wine I had on my trip to California. Completely unoaked and an old-world style wine. This was served at the same time as our next white wine to compare it against. $28
  3. ** 2007 Martinelli Chardonnay Three Sisters Vineyard – a classic example of a well-made California style Chardonnay. Plenty of oak and vanilla and a much heavier mouthfeel than the Copain. While most enjoyed both wines, the majority preferred the Copain (at less than half the price!). $60
  4. *** 1999 Bruno Giacosa Barolo – the Azienda Agricola (non-estate) bottling, this was sadly my last bottle of this great value/entry level Giacosa Barolo. Still young and powerful, I decanted the wine for 6 hours and it still had plenty of sweet red fruit and smooth tannins. This wine was served at the same time as the next red to compare. $95
  5. ** 1981 Il Colle Brunello di Montalcino – not as aromatic or open as the last time I tried this wine a few months ago. More tar and leather than fruit in the aroma or palate; I was a bit disappointed compared to what I tasted the first time I had this at dell’anima. The opinion here was split but more people preferred the Giacosa. $85
  6. * 1969 Hugel Traminer “Hugel” Reserve Exceptionelle – a wine we tried more to explore than anything, the bottle was in surprisingly good condition for its age. On the palate a bit disappointing, well past its prime, it was barely clinging on to the fruit and acidity it probably once had and just retained its residual sweetness. $80
  7. ** 2010 Domaine des Bernardins Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise (375 ml) – great wine for the price. Lots of sweet stone fruit and honey, medium body for the sweetness and well balanced. Great after dinner digestif. $15

Dinner in the Hamptons

29 June 2012, 57 Old Trail Road, Water Mill

Eugene was visiting from Hong Kong and we spent a week relaxing in the Hamptons. The first weekend there, we decided to cook dinner for everyone who would be arriving later that night. The main meat course was lamb chops in a mint and cumin rub with a yogurt dipping sauce. To accompany, I opened two bottles of one of my favorites, the entry level Barolo from Bruno Giacosa:

1999 Bruno Giacosa Barolo

This bottle is from estate grapes (Azienda Agricola) but not a single vineyard bottling. Decanted for six hours, it had the standard light red color of Nebbiolo and intense aromatics. Spice, sweetness and earthiness – you can smell the bottle age. Sweet red fruit and light mouth feel – stood up to the spice of the lamb but didn’t feel heavy at all.

After dessert, we opened a bottle of one of my favorite sweet wines from Alsace:

1989 Albert Boxler & Fils Gewurztraminer Selection de Grains Nobles

Delicious and light for a dessert wine of this sweetness. Nice acidity to balance the sugar – honeysuckle, sweet citrus and peaches. A great sweet wine and only lacking in it’s complexity throughout the palate.

*** 1999 Bruno Giacosa Barolo, $95

*** 1989 Albert Boxler & Fils Gewurztraminer Selection de Grains Nobles, $170

A Bruno Barbaresco at B&B

22 June 2012, B&B Ristorante, The Venetian, Las Vegas

Deb, Ben, Diane and I arrived in Las Vegas a day early to celebrate Carolyn’s 30th birthday. One of the highlights was dinner at B&B Ristorante – a Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich restaurant in the Venetian. Deb, Diane and I (Ben was meeting up with his brother) ordered a few apps, pastas and entrees to share. While the food was delicious as usual, one of the indelible moments of the meal for me was the wine:

1996 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Rabaja

Giacosa’s first wine from the Rabaja site in Barbaresco, this wine was stunning: musty earth, leather and sweet red fruit in the aroma. Dark black fruit with shockingly young acidity and tannins that are just starting to integrate with the wine. The wine was opened at the beginning of the meal and developed for the next two hours until we finished the bottle. A longer decant would have helped but I still think the peak of this wine is 3-6 years down the road.

**** 1996 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Rabaja, $175

Pre-Summer Celebration

19 April 2012, 27 N. Moore Street, Tribeca

As summer approaches, that means planning for the summer house share with our usual crew – Dan and Sul, Nick and Michelle, Diane and I, and Cliff with his date, Michelle. Dan and Sul offered to host a dinner at their new apartment in Tribeca and it was easily one of my most memorable wine meals ever. The food was prepped by New York Vintners and everyone brought a bottle of wine to share with the group.

We started off with a bottle of 1990 Louis Roederer Cristal to accompany the cured meats and cheeses:

1990 Louis Roederer Cristal

62% Pinot Noir and 38% Chardonnay –  floral nose with a crisp attack. Perfect balance of acid, yeast and stone fruit; incredibly smooth with a long finish. One vote for wine-of-the-night (Diane).

The second bottle of the night was a white Rioja, the 1991 Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonio Gran Riserva Blanco:

1991 Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonio Gran Riserva Blanco

Served at cellar temperature and reminds me of the “orange” wines of Friuli in it’s mouth feel. Earthy with mild oxidation and delicious as a pre-dinner aperatif.

With our first course of the night, a yellow beat salad with walnuts, was a Grand Cru white Burgundy, the 2002 Henri Boillot Batard-Montrachet:

2002 Henri Boillot Batard-Montrachet

Decanted just prior to serving. Floral nose but without the power I expected from a Grand Cru – heavy stone fruit and a touch of vanilla on the palate. Medium finish with good balance but hadn’t developed any tertiary flavors or complexity yet.

Our flight reds began with two red Bordeaux to accompany our pasta course. The first a 2000 Chateau Kirwan:

2000 Chateau Kirwan

Full decant for 12 hours. To me, this wine is a great example of both its varietal and region. Full bodied, big dark fruit with a long finish – plenty of tannins and mouth grip at twelve years. I thoroughly enjoyed the wine but was a bit surprised that it was five people’s WOTN! (Dan, Sul, Michelle, Cliff, Michelle)

The next Bordeaux was a Grand Cru, 1986 Chateau Latour:

1986 Chateau Latour

Full decant for 2 hours.  Brown tinges on the rim, dark, earthy nose. Mild red fruit on the palate – has probably peaked at this point but had a subtlety due to bottle age that was missing in the first Bordeaux we had.

Our next red, along with the prime rib, was a 1990 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Villero:

1990 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Villero

Decanted into a clean bottle for about 12 hours before. Incredible nose – tobacco, earth and tar. Very sweet, red fruit on the palate – continues to have structure though with perfect integration of the tannins. Loved it – hands down one of the top five Barolos I’ve ever had. One vote for WOTN (Nick) and would’ve been mine were it not for the last wine we had.

With the dessert course, a 1989 Chateau d’Yquem:

1989 Chateau d'Yquem

Apricots, honey, elderflower and some spice. Impeccable balance and finish – just a perfect wine. My WOTN.

A perfect meal hosted by Dan and Sul. By the end of the night we were all full, happy and ready to pass out:

Panchito, ready for bed

**** 1990 Louis Roederer Cristal, $450

*** 1991 Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Gran Riserva Blanco, $90

*** 2002 Henri Boillot Batard-Montrachet, $280

*** 2000 Chateau Kirwan, $75

*** 1986 Chateau Latour, $440

**** 1990 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Villero, $275

**** 1989 Chateau d’Yquem, $300

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