Saturday, May 01, 2010

Non C'è Due Senza Tricolore

That's kinda how the whole week has been - a blur

The wine gods must really love pulling the strings. They really had me going this week. After a crazy-busy week, which finished with a baker’s dozen tasting of Sangiovese’s from Tuscany, I found myself in the far corner of my fair city, during rush hour, with an approaching storm. And a group of hungry wine guys waiting for me, on the other side of town, to join them for a “Boys night out with Barolo.”

Ever the prankster, I brought along a Barbaresco, just because I thought it would be interesting to see how La Grande Dame of nebbiolo faired with the burly boys of Bussia, Serralunga and Cannubi. There were no really big names there, and a few I had not heard of. One of the gents in our gang of 5, the Silverbacks we are, is moving to Houston. So while he will be consoled with the foods of Catalan, Nino’s, Vincent’s, Tony’s, Da Marco, Giacomo’s and any number of other excellent spots with which to assuage the pain of separation from his man-tribe, we will just have to take the feast to Houston from time to time. Happy Trails, Dave!

It was a tricolore spectacled night

Hank, the itchy-footed one on our group, asked me if I was going to blog this tasting. “Alfonso, you write a wine blog, but you seldom write about wine.” He didn’t mean it as a criticism, but it got me to thinking. I should once in a while talk about wine, post the obligatory TN’s (with or without scores) and join in the merriment of talking about something that sounds so ridiculous when reading about them. I probably will leave the tasting note to folks who are supremely more qualified to do so, folks like Anthony Galloni, James Suckling, Tim Atkins, Jancis Robinson and Karen MacNeil. But not before I at least lay down the list of wines we tasted. Then I will get on with the post.

We set them up in three flights of three:
2005 Barolo “Bricco Rosso” Cascina Bruni
2004 Barolo “Patres” Cantine San Silvestro
2004 Barolo “Presenda” Marziano Abbona

2003 Barolo Pere Alessandro
2003 Barolo “Tradizione” Dezzani
2003 Barbaresco “Bric Mentina” La Ca' Növa

2000 Barolo “Presenda” Marziano Abbona
1996 Barolo Marchesi Di Barolo
1995 Barolo “Cannubi” Marchesi Di Barolo

No Gaja, no Giacosa, no Giacomo Conterno; sorry trophy hunters. Just wines that are found in local wine stores.

Non c'è due senza tre (X tre)

In the first flight the standout for me was the Marziano Abbona Barolo "Presenda" 2004; a bit modern in their use of wood, but nice fruit and the oak component didn’t put me off. It went really well with the food, even the salad. The San Silvestro "Patres"2004, I imagined was a wine that was brought in directly by a retailer. Large winery (400+K bottles produced) but the wine was not over oaked, it was a good wine for the mix. The Barolo "Bricco Rosso" from Cascina Bruni 2005 seemed a little tired. Maybe it'd had a busy week, too.

The flight of 2003’s were, for me the most interesting in that I had no knowledge of the two Barolo wines and the Barbaresco (an old favorite) was thrown into the mix to see how 2003 was fairing. I recently had a talk with Aldo Vacca of Produttori del Barbaresco and we spent a little time talking about 2003 in the Langhe. The windup is, these wines are showing very well in this moment. And there are some good deals out there. The Dezzani was a surprise, because I usually see the Dezzani label in wines that are in discount stores, hence the super low entry-level style. But this one, called “Tradizione” was very pleasant. The other one, the Pere Alessandro, I had never seen. Again, I imagined this was a wine that was brought in directly by a retailer. It reminded me of the wines I had run across recently in Italy .

The Barbaresco “Bric Mentina” La Ca' Növa was probably my favorite wine of the night. It just sings the song I like to hear. It is the kind of wine I lust after.

The last flight, older wines, presented a conundrum. I really thought the middle wine the 1996 Barolo Marchesi Di Barolo had issues in the nose. Fungus. One in our party didn’t detect it though. He finished the bottle; actually he finished all of the bottles. But that’s another story.

The 2000 Barolo “Presenda” Marziano Abbona was beautiful. Resembling the 2004 in style, but just a little perkier from the vintage and a little more relaxed from being a little older. I could drink that wine again. And I know some folks will cringe that I do like it, because it does embrace modernity. Oak, fruit. Too bad. I can’t wait to try their Barbaresco “Faset”. Great memories of that area.

The 1995 Barolo “Cannubi” Marchesi Di Barolo stumped me. I was expecting more. More or less. It was limping a little, not out of the race, but one that really didn’t have its heart in it. But a once pretty stallion, still had a nice gait, even with its affliction.

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears

The pasta dish, orecchiette with a ragu (of cinghiale from Sausage Paul), was perfect. I know Dave worried about the gristle and told us he lied awake in bed in the early hours of the morning hoping he cleaned them all out. Yes Dave, you did. It was a "2 plate of pasta" night. Hey, why don’t you just stay in Dallas and open up a restaurant in the West Village. Or better just serve meals from your home like they do in Emilia Romagna? Please, wontcha, huh?

The nice thing about this, is while I couldn’t have all my online friends there, I do have a group of guys that I can get together with and talk about things in more than 140 characters. And drink wine and eat food. And sometimes it’s good to get out of the virtual cocoon and get a taste of the real thing. Thanks, amigos great night.

And finishing this week with a little sad news. One of the great gents of the Langhe, Alfredo Currado, passed away. I heard about it from Champagne Ed. I love the Vietti wines; they started the huge debate about tradition vs. modernity. The kids are now grown up, the flames has been passed to them. But I will always remember those piercing eyes, that shock of hair and the mind that was always tinkering, up on the hill in Castiglione Falletto. Bon anima, amico, you will be missed.

The two AC's: Alfredo Currado and Alfonso Cevola in Castiglione Falletto circa 1984


Samantha Dugan said...

I've got an adorable tiny blonde that is looking for wine friends in Dallas, maybe she could stand in for Dave from time to time. Now she drinks mostly French white wine and Champagne but she is in culinary school, swears like a sailor and can drink most men I know under the table.

Looks like a fantastic night; food, wine and friends dude...trifecta.

Alfonso Cevola said...

We are currently accepting applications and screening new applicants for Dave's slot.

I am in charge of the screening process ;)

Thomas said...

It all seems so--back roomish.

Alfonso Cevola said...

Thanks for making is seem more clandestine than it was, Thomas. It was more like boys night "in" than "out" :)

Thomas said...

Oh, no, Alfonso. I meant the wheeling and dealing between you and Sam to fill that vacancy...

Alfonso Cevola said...


Oh yes, absolutely...

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