Dinner @ Maialino with a few French wines

28 August 2014, Maialino, Manhattan

Maialino has been one of my favorite restaurants in NYC since it opened.  It’s located in the beautiful Gramercy Park Hotel (a pre-dinner cocktail at the Rose Bar across the lobby is a great way to start the evening) and has a lively and inviting atmosphere paired with impeccable, friendly, Danny-Meyer style service.  The food is fantastic and the wine list is among the most fairly priced in the city.  I recently went for dinner with my fiance and a couple friends, one of whom works in the wine industry.

We had several antipasti to start including the fried artichoke and lemon (a must order).  We started with a bottle of the 2007 Pierre Peters Les Chetillons.  A gorgeous wine that took time to come alive in the glass.  Floral aromas and stone fruit with great minerality on the palate.  The wine was at its best after having time to breathe and warm up a bit – delicious today but will definitely get better with age.  (Also, at $185, an incredible deal at a restaurants given it retails for around $125 in the USA.)

*** 2007 Pierre Peters Les Chetillons:

We shared several pastas including the Malfatti with the braised suckling pig and arugula which is always my favorite pasta there.  We also shared a couple entrees including the piece de resistance, the maialino al forno!  The reason we came to eat here did not disappoint with the crispy skin and soft pork underneath.

For wines, we brought two Bordeaux: 1996 Jean Gautreau de Sociando-Mallet and 1998 Chateau Figeac.  All of us at dinner were relative novices in Bordeaux so thought it’d be fun to try these blind to see if we could guess which wine is which.  This would be harder than a typical left bank/right bank blind tasting as the Jean Gautreau is a barrel selection bottling and Sociando-Mallet has a large percentage of Merlot.  Also, the Figeac is almost 1/3 each of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

** 1996 Jean Gautreau de Sociando-Mallet

*** 1998 Chateau Figeac

The 1996 Jean Gautreau tasted like the younger wine.  It still has heat on the nose and attack and actually smelled to me like a California style Merlot!  Green peppers and herbaceous notes, full bodied and noticeable oak.  Not my expected style of wine from Bordeaux but definitely well made and I would wait at least 5 years before trying another bottle of this.

The 1998 Figeac was much closer to fully mature – this smelled more like a left bank wine to me.  Floral aromas and cherry, tobacco and subtle hints of oak on the palate.  More medium bodied than the Gautreau and a lighter wine in flavor dimensions.  I had no problem finishing this wine but had some of the Gautreau left over – not because I didn’t enjoy it but it was too heavy for me by the end of the meal.