Thursday, June 04, 2009

Seersucker, Foie Gras and Amarone

To celebrate the end of May, which was an hellacious month for the wine world, Paul and Annette DiCarlo graciously opened up their home in East Dallas for a Sunday afternoon of eating and drinking. Summer is bearing down upon us, a time which we find ourselves embroiled in heat and heated debate about almost anything. Tempers flare, lines are drawn in the sand, swords are sharpened, clocks are set. But not before one last meal. One last great meal.

Sausage Paul had called me. “You coming?” I reply, “Hi Paul. Yeah, I’m coming. What? Where?” I was dreading that I had forgotten a tasting or an appointment, so I was ready to bolt out the door, one week in advance. I happened to be in Way west Fort Worth, so I figured I’d show up late and make an appearance. “Next, week, the Amarone dinner. My house.” The line goes dead. My friend Paul, isn’t one for long good-byes.

But I was spared. It was in a week, so I had time to get back (and over) the meal I had just had, which was this larger-than-life chicken fried steak. You had to be there, it was one of those road-house food places that are rapidly disappearing in Texas and probably anywhere else.

One week, later, I have had time to prepare. Exercise, fasting, high colonic. Hey, you don’t go to Paul and Annette’s house and “pick” at eating. You feast. And in today’s time when everyone is trying so hard to be frugal and inauspicious, this would be a little over the top. It always is. Some of the best chefs and restaurateurs in town would be there, so this wouldn’t be a time to say no.

We get there in time for a round of sparkling rose wine from the Veneto, all the rage now that they have saturated the market with Prosecco. I brought a bottle of Gruner just to be a contrarian. I figured after I blasted it in the last post, and some of the somms were chiding me for hating on the Gruner. Actually I like Gruner. And Zweigelt. But that’s another post.

Anyway, we get to the house and Sharon Hage of York Street is heating up a skillet for the foie gras. We were eating those things like catechumens sucking up Necco® wafers. We were getting ready for the miracle of the wine, so why not?

Major Domo Adelmo was modeling his newly acquired seersucker shorts, which showed off his tanned and muscle-bound legs, gained from his early morning walks (stalks?) in the neighborhood. Adelmo is irreverent to anything that has been established as a custom. Wine in a wine glass? Why? When it is so much more fun to pour a rare Casa dei Bepi Amarone in a jelly glass? It was Sunday, these restaurant owners work, work, work all the time. Son of a gun never rests. Let him be.

The room was getting crowded what with the short ribs and the foie gras and the pasta course all heating up the kitchen, which is where everyone was congregating. The AC unit was on overload, set at 60. The room felt like 80+. Seersucker was a good idea, after all.

So after the foie gras apps and all the other salumi scattered around the room, we head straight into the pasta course, some funny looking maccherone with those wonderful baby tomatoes from the south. Simple and good food. Great with the Valpolicella lined up in pole position, waiting for their moment. Also waiting for those Amarones to chill down a little, nestled in the fridge with the dessert wine and the Dublin Dr. Pepper (after all, we are in Texas).

About the Amarones: Quintarelli '97 and '98, Dal Forno '01, Tedeschi '03, Masi '01, Viviani 'Casa dei Bepi' '01.

Good Lord!

We started with the Masi Mazzano 2001. What, do you want a tasting note?
It was a good start. Kind of that old memory of Amarone from 30 years ago when the wines made were rustic with a little stink. Not too ripe, the funk was in check. How can I say it? Attractive but not sexy.

The Tedeschi Amarone "Fabrisieria" ’03 was more like a Recioto than any of them. This reminded me of the wines I read about in the past about Amarone, really a time trip. I would have like o try this wine when it was winter and we were eating polenta and a big slab of meat. But it was good.

The 2001 Viviani “Casa dei Bepi” was among my faves. Maybe because the folks are familiar. But the wine had nice body, solid flavors, some elegance, the wood was subdued (thank God) and it complimented the food. Deelish.

The Dal Forno 2001. It reminded me of a Pontiac GTO that restaurateur Van Roberts once bought and had the engine stoked up to 600 horsepower. Lot’s o’ pony in that bottle. And definitely a show pony. And a high maintenance one at that. At $400 a pop, yeah it is. Thanks loads to Paul for ponying up and sharing it.

And the twin vintages of Quintarelli, the ’97 and ’98. Now that was the moment of meditation for me. Everybody loves the ’97, the fruit, the power, the big balls. I get it. Or rather, I don’t get it for me. It was all that and a bag of chips, but the wine of the night, for me, was the 1998 from Quintarelli.

There are far better places to compare and analyze the two vintages, 1997 and 1998. For me, having them both there, sitting and staring at me, was great. Wonderful. I just found the 1998 to have this restraint, you know like when a gorgeous woman comes in to the room and she so seductively doesn’t show you her body with the way she dresses but you nonetheless get stirred up? That was what the 1998 did to me. ‘Nuff said.

Ok, so this has been a bit of a mommy blog with seersucker and expensive wines thrown in. Not bragging. Celebrating. May was a tough, tough month for the wine business. We’re going to need more than a new set of tires to get ourselves dusted up and back on the wine trail, in Italy or Texas.

Pass the tiramisu, per favore.

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