choose your destiny

sabato 8 novembre 2014

Barolo bar 2014 at Maialino NYC

What better way is there to spend a late afternoon in New York than looking out into Gramercy Park
and tasting through this epic list of Barolo by the glass at Bar Maialino

Tasting these big name Nebbiolo's side by side was a soothing experience that was a much needed contrast to the usual chaotic tasting room scene one hurriedly darts through in Manhattan. The photo of the below list can speak for itself but there were some surprises of course.

The 1999 Bartolo Mascarello was drinking the best for me. 1999 was a classic vintage in the Langhe and the consistency I have found with Bartolo Mascarello Barolo's is unmatched by any other producer in my opinion.  They have also bottled an insane 2003 Barolo in such a difficult vintage and you'll see most other producers are already drinking past their peaks with that very hot and over ripe vintage of 2003.  Bartolo sources the grapes from the vineyards of Canubbi, San Lorenzo, Rue and Rocche' and is always a blended Barolo.

The 2003 Giacomo Conterno, Cascina Francia was showing a very promising aromatic profile from the glass.  A delicious balance of fruit, herbs and spice, but on the palate fell very short.  There really is no structure or length for this expression of 2003, but is still delicious to chug down with food if you just want a tasty Barolo without thinking too hard about it (for $39 a glass).

The Giuseppe Mascarello, Monprivato 2005 was another favorite of mine at the bar.  This beast from Castiglione Falleto was showing a nice bloody muscular side of Barolo and was still very young and big but also generously food friendly.

At the beginning we started off with a taste of the 2007 Fratelli Alessandria, Monvigliero.  Monvigliero is the prized single vineyard in the northern Verduno area of Barolo and is known for its greatly aromatic wines that also bring a firm backbone and great complexity.  This wine did not let us down.  It was showing that amazing Langhe bouquet while still being very traditional and approachable for such a young wine.  A step lighter in body than some of the big hitters on the list but Monvigliero for me is delivering some promising and exciting wines for the market here in the United States.

The 2000 Giuseppe Rinaldi, Brunate-Le Coste was a wine I was so looking forward to tasting.  They are one of the most sought-after and prized of all the Barolos.  When they are on point they are fucking amazing and life changing but there definitely isn't the consistency I see in a producer like Bartolo Mascarello.  This wine was pretty wild.  At first it had a big chemically wet paint and truffle aroma almost coming off as a touch of volatile acidity.  The harshest of it blew off after a minute in the glass but it was still an amazing wine to meditate over.  It had very beautiful layers and was insanely complex but I have to like the Bartolo over this wine because of its absolute harmony and togetherness.  I was sipping with a few Maialino employees at the bar and was informed that it wasn't just this bottle that was showing the slight V.A.

As of 2010 Rinaldi's Barolo will be labeled as just "Brunate" and "Tre Tine" as the law no longer permits two vineyards on a single label.

Happy Nebbiolo Season! I hope to be back soon.

lunedì 20 ottobre 2014

1971 Barolo Fontanafredda at Maialino NYC

Uncorking this 1971 Fontana Fredda Barolo this weekend at Maialino in New York City 
was a bit like opening a coffin in The Langhe and experiencing Nebbiolo zombies awakening from the dead to slowly climb into the glass.  

At first this wine smelled of rotten corpse, soil and maybe some tar for the sake of tradition.  Slowly opening into what reminded me of molded fruit loops covered in forest soil, and eventually into a more focused cherry with long classic Nebbiolo notes but still with a sense of rotting materials.  The acid was healthy as hell and the colour was notably a few more notches towards ruby than I expected.  I have had 80's Barbaresco and Barolo that were much more orange in colour.  But this was a fabulous and memorable wine and I believe we enjoyed the last bottle stocked at Maialino.

lunedì 29 settembre 2014

Nebbiolo of the day! Barolo Monvigliero by Castello di Verduno

After shuffling through some 30 to 40 wines at last weeks Domenico Valentino tasting in NYC at 
I Trulli restaurant I stopped everything the second this nebbiolo entered my glass.

Castello di Verduno makes some interesting, fun and easy drinking wines such as their bottlings of Pelaverga which include a bianco, a rosso and a sparkling rosato.  I have worked a lot with their Pelavergas and some Barbaresco as well but tasting their Barolo is a different story.  These expressions of Nebbiolo show that they aren't just about fun and games all the time but can put out a serious traditional styled bottle of Barolo that is absolutely delicious.

Castello di Verduno gets their name from the village of Verduno in the north most part of the Barolo DOCG right above La Morra.  Monvigliero, the grand cru of the area is known for its fine white marl, also known as "Marne di Sant' Agata''.  The soil produces age-worthy wines that are distinct and aromatically complex.  The 2007 Riserva (aged at least 30 months in botti grandi) was already so expressive with layers and layers of classic nebbiolo rose, cherry, liquorish and tar unfolding from the nose.  The tannins were very present but not overwhelming as many traditional 2007 Barolos are at this point in their life.

 A look from near the top of the CDV Monvigliero vineyard, captured courtesy of Levi Dalton

mercoledì 17 settembre 2014

Apertura Champagne Billecart-Salmon con la sciabola!

Magnum Mania for a 30th birthday celebration at Fort Tilden, NYC

The first saber of the day,  Billecart-Salmon Extra Brut NV in magnum

The gorgeous weather for the beginning of fall this month inspired me to bring everyone to the beach for a mid september birthday celebration.  I figured if I'm turning 30 I might as well make it that much more ridiculous and get everyone together on the idea of bringing magnums instead of normal format wine bottles.  Hey, we are already illegally drinking on the beach so lets just say fuck it and start sabering some big ass bottles of champy. 

The beach was Fort Tilden, an old military base, now hidden gem for beaches in New York City.  You really don't feel like you are just minutes from Brooklyn and New York. 

Liz Nicholson, Sommelier at Marea NYC, came in with the heavy hitter magnum of 2009 Leflaive ''Les Folatieres". First opened it was big, with strong fruit and oak present, but quickly morphed after we let it open up for a couple of hours into a much more mineral driven long drinking chardonnay.  Great stuff (And thanks to the police for the help).

Nick Leplant, moments before the sabering of a Ferrari magnum

Flawless Victory

Champagne of the day, shout out to James Obrien of Maialino for the Jacques Lassaigne Blanc de Blanc

Will Edwards of Elan, NYC with a sick magnum of Madiran 1996, made from 100% Tannat, delicious.

Thanks to Blake Noyes for the fly ass photography (far right kimono) and thanks to all these beautiful people!

venerdì 22 agosto 2014

Remembering Paolo Rapuzzi of Ronchi di Cialla

Pouring some Ribolla out for the lost.  

I Enjoyed a bottle of 2012 Ribolla Gialla from Ronchi di Cialla on a New York City beach earlier this week in memory of Paolo Rapuzzi,  the legendary producer of indigenous varieties of Friuli who passed away on August 13th.  This wine was showing a blazing minerality that day which I have watched open up over the past year since it's release.

Its amazing to watch the improvement of a wine over a period of time.  Something you can only really experience by working in a restaurant and tasting the same wine every single day.  Even a very simple pure Ribolla Gialla.

Thank you Paolo for letting the COF2011 crew into your family's home and opening some very memorable wines with us.  

martedì 22 luglio 2014

A pass by the 2014 Pig and Punch

The 4th annual Pig and Punch in New Orleans hosted by Bon Vivant and Imbibe.  

On my way out of the city after a long and tiring weekend of debauchery through the jazz filled streets of New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail, I happened to stumble upon one last party.  I was killing my last hour in the French Quarter awaiting my flight and there I walked into the perfect sunday picnic.  Multiple pig roasts with southern style sides alongside multiple garbage bins full of pre-made boozy punches.

The selection...
One epic sized ice cube

The first taste of tender pork washed down with ginny punch had me feeling much better from my earlier exhausted hungover self. As soon as I finished my above plate the dry, humid 90 degree sunny day turned in a flash to an epic downpour and thunder and lightening storm.  

This was the perfect combination for me to miss my flight and drench absolutely everything I owned in that moment.  Luckily everything turned out okay and eventually I made it back to New York. 

           When in New Orleans remember… Would you like that cocktail for here or to go?

lunedì 5 maggio 2014

Francesco Rinaldi, the meaning of ''Cannubbio''

During a reunion of friends and past Maialino wine team colleagues, we sampled from a beautiful roman menu and were fortunate to get served some memorable Nebbiolo from wine director, Jeff Kellogg.

After quenching our Champagne thirst we dove into two Nebbiolo's, a 1989 Francesco Rinaldi Barolo ''Cannubbio'', followed by a 1974 Oddero Barolo.

The '74 Oddero was drinking right around its peak, perhaps a touch past.  A bit thinner than the Rinaldi with an edgier acidity, tasting like a cigarette was put out in a shot of half cherry liquer half swamp water with a garnish of taleggio rind… you know in a delicious way though.

The Cannubbio from Rinaldi was one of the top five Nebbiolo's I have ever consumed no doubt.
Swampy cherries, with a gigantic liquorish bouquet, morphing into dark chocolate and tar, with a background of wilting roses.  Medium and long in body with still a large, youthful mid palate and gorgeous acidity that will allow this bad guy to age for at least 20 more years.  Drinking this wine was like riding an everlasting Nebbiolo wave.

What and where is Cannubbio?

After some research and a read through the Slowfood book,  ''a wine atlas of the Langhe'', I was surprised to find no easy answers regarding the intentions of ''Cannubbio'' on Rinaldi's Barolo labels.
I found three websites all providing different information about Cannubbio, Cannubi and Cannubi Boschis.

I Emailed over to the Francesco Rinaldi winery in Barolo to find out the deal, Paola responded as follows…

''Cannubbio was the old name used for this area (we found it in old documents and books). The modern name is Cannubi (on the maps starting with vintage 2010). Our old vintages are Barolo Cannubbio and our Barolo 2010 is Cannubi. We own nearly 2 hectars in Cannubi boschis  (the first part of the hill) and a small part in Cannubi (in the middle of the hill)

In the article Battling bureaucracy in BaroloJancis Robinson writes about the controversial change Giuseppe Rinaldi was forced into.  As of 2010 they can no longer label a Barolo ''Brunate-Le Coste'' because of two vineyards appearing on the label (It seems the 2010 will be labeled Brunate but will contain a blend of 15% Le-Coste grapes.) But as far as Cannubi goes, it seems to be okay to label a Barolo ''Cannubi'' even if its coming from the Cannubi Boschis (aka Monghisolfo) or other surrounding Cannubi sub zone vineyards. 

My friend Alfonso Cevola wrote on the current state of Cannubi itself a couple of years ago in an article To Cannubi or not to Cannubi? where he was coming up with at least 25 hectares of wine being labeled Cannubi even though it is an area of 15 hectares.

I guess this is all a classic example of how strange, unorganized and controversial Italian wine is.  I originally only wanted to share a few amazing wines I recently drank and the cannubbio gods took me on a never-ending tangent.  And I guess after three days of searching my original idea of ''sure, cannubbio is synonymous with cannubi right? hasn't really changed that much.

Happy Nebbiolo drinking

lunedì 10 marzo 2014

Timeless method yesterday at the Us Open

Taylor Gold sending a timeless method on the first hit yesterday
and taking home the Gold medal at the US Open in Vail, Colorado.

There was a good feeling in the air after watching the US Open of Snowboarding yesterday.  After a terrible Halfpipe competition in Sochi for the olympics, Vail put on an amazing contest and some amazing tricks went down.

Besides Terje poaching with some classic frontside Indy to Method double grabs, Taylor Gold mixed up some classic styles with some new school tricks like Haakon 1080 Chicken Salads, and Frontside crippler Roast Beefs.  It was enough to take home a well deserved gold medal which left a sense of hope for the future and style of competitive snowboarding.

Link to Snowboardermag Video

Terje, Danny and Lago sending it together.

venerdì 7 marzo 2014

Tokyo. Remembering the two best culinary experiences of my life, in one day.

The flawless fatty tuna at Sushi Dai in the Tsukiji Fish Market.

The two single best culinary/dining experiences of my life at 29 years old happened in one day in Tokyo, Japan.  The first was a sushi breakfast at 8 am in a tiny little place and the second happened 12 hours later in a fine dining restaurant.

The following is a journal entry from 100 Rolls by Blake Noyes during that magically tasteful day in Tokyo.

After a 3am wake-up call and a sip or two of some Japanese whiskey we set off for the Tsukiji fish market. Somehow we wandered in the right direction and found ourselves in a huge, dark complex of warehouses with every sea creature under the sun in what seemed to be millions of boxes and crates. Total sensory overload. Gasoline, cigarettes and raw fish. Squeaking styrofoam and screaming fishermen. Dismissive hand gestures and dangerous hand carts. 

The sights, sounds and smells were unlike anything we’d ever seen.

And the flavors? Well after being politely “excused” from the grounds by various security officers we wound up in a line about 20 people deep for Sushi Dai - an 11-seat sushi bar renowned for their omakase menu featuring the chefs favorites from that night/morning’s catch.

Still only 5am mind you. 1 hour goes by. Then 2. Then 3. Luckily we had run into some friends from NYC (shout out to chefs Ben and Sara) to help pass the time. By 8:30 we were crammed into this hole-in-the-wall joint tucked away in an alley and had the best sushi meal of our collective lives. We all agreed. Quite the breakfast.

Here are some shots of the sushi served up by the very talented, comedian sushi chefs

After a pitstop at the hotel it was off to the Ryogoku Kokugikan Grand Tournament to see some classic sumo wrestling matches. Again, quite the sight to see.

Then it was the red light district by Shinjuku Station...

We finished the night off at Kyubey, another small sushi bar, this time in the Ginza neighborhood. Here the service and location were much more polished but once more, another stellar meal. It may be a bitter-sweet thing that happened, but it made for the second best sushi meal of our lives. And they happened on the same day, not even 13 hours apart from one another. Many thanks to Chef Takeshima and his crew.

We were ambitious with our plans for the club scene, but it was probably for the best that we called it a night after that 21 hour marathon.

Here we are… Nico, Blake, and James with Chef and server at Kyubey.

Cheers from the 333, #AsianTouringClub2013

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