Thursday, October 20, 2011

DOCG Comeuppance, Classified Dregs from the 90's and Other NY Tales

From the “life’s too short to drink bad wine or eat bad cheese” dept.

Anyone who follows this blog for that last few years probably have read about my friend Andrea Fassone. Andrea moved to NY from Torino in August of 2001. Great timing. And in Oct of 2008 he started his own wine importing business. Again, his timing was impeccable. Andrea lost both his parents when he was young and essentially has a sister and aunt and uncle left in Italy. Let’s say when Andrea came to America he burned the boats (but not the bridges). Now he is happily married to Lorraine Hinds and has been welcomed into her wonderful family. Andrea and Lorraine recently had twins, Max and Matteo. Those boys are a post for a whole ‘nother time, but suffice to say, Andrea and Lorraine have their hands full. In the very best sense of the word.

Yesterday while in NY on a panel for Social Media for the Vinitaly USA tour, I stopped by and tasted wines with various friends and producers. I don’t do business with Andrea – we’re friends – but I do enjoy seeing what he has found in Italy – he is not an industry insider – but he is a natural – and he has good business sense and an even better work ethic – he is a model importer/wholesaler on the small scale – and he is growing – remember he started up in a downturn.

Anyway, a long way to say he really gigged me the other day with a DOCG question. He knows I am the unofficial watchdog of the ongoing DOCG cavalcade of wines to be nominated and awarded the vaunted ribbon of excellence.

“Did you know, Alfonso, that the only wine that has a DOCG that is both red and white is Roero?” As a matter of fact I did not. So to elucidate and share with the rest of the room, I snapped his picture with one of his wines, from a producer he knows simply as “PACE”. So there you have it – news you can use – from NY.

Also this week I have been traveling around checking out food and wine – while waiting for colleagues for a nearby dinner I ducked out of the rain into a cheese shop in my old NY neighborhood – Beecher's Handmade Cheese – and lo and behold what was in there? My sweet little Mexican Pepperleaf from Paula Lambert’s Mozzarella Company in Dallas – I introduced myself as one of the growers of the leaf that covers the cheese, now known as the Hoja Santa cheese – and we all had a good time sipping a Long Island Cabernet Franc.

Across the street at Pizza Fresca, Charles Scicolone and friends (along with Ed McCarthy and two of their younger friends Nicole and Travis) were assembling an impressive array of wines to try from France and Italy. Ed and Charles had just been to a huge Bordeaux luncheon and they brought some dregs from the ‘90’s – Lafite, Lynch Bages and Clerc Milon – not too shabby – Ed brought a Champagne (he is an expert in that area, for all who didn’t know) and Nicole and Ryan amazed us with two very old bottles of Fontanafredda Barolo – 1961 and 1964. Nicole and Ryan work “in the trade” and he has the amazing luck to find all manner of old Italian wines in great shape – he is what we call in the antique business a “divvy”. A great find.

Along with all manner of pizze (and Weightwatcher points) we lurched, and voraciously worked our way through the lot. The 1961 was in a perfect state for drinking – ready to go - as they say in the operating room.

The 1964 probably had more stuffing in it – and being also from a fabulous vintage could have more years left to it had we not finished it off with the 1961.

Charles also brought a bottle of ’88 Grato Grati which he thought was the ’82 – he seemed a little disappointed – the wine did not disappoint – lovely Sangiovese expression – clearly a great wine that we could have enjoyed all by itself. But we had an embarrassment of riches that night and no apologies for it – only gratitude to the wine gods – who always come through – always!

Great generosity from friends old and new, in a place I remember from my early adult years – I do not miss living in NY – I am too much of a Westerner – love the skies and solitude of the spaces out West – but once in a while I do like to come "back East" for my Nebbiolo and come uppins'.

Awesome bubbles, Ed. Thanks!

Thanks, y’all!


Do Bianchi said...

Stop showing off, Ace... ;) I hope you said hi to everyone for me... Love all those folks... and wow, were those Fontafredda library releases? or the original bottlings? pretty cool... I've tasted those wines and they can be amazing...

Alfonso Cevola said...

as I quoted you at the seminar, "every blog is a vanity blog"

they werent "library" releases - they were open sourced finds - the young chap has quite a talent for finding these rare gems from Italy

yeah you were missed - we talked trash about you - big time!

obwnknobe said...

Ciao Alfonso- we miss Jeremy in NY.
It was a great evening and I cannot belive how Nicole and Travis are able to get old wine in such good condition.

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